Monday, April 6, 2009

This Passover Spend Time with Two 15th Century Haggadot Online

This Passover Spend Time with Two 15th Century Haggadot Online

(ISJM) The National Library of Israel, David and Fela Shapell Family Digitization Project, has produced a digitized version of the Library's "Rothschild Haggadah" for public access. The Haggadah, also known as the "Murphy Haggadah," was until 1939 owned by the Rothschild family, but during World War II it was looted by the Nazis. Later, it was acquired by a Yale alumnus Dr. Fred Towsley Murphy who bequeathed it to the Yale University Library in 1948. In 1980 it was identified as a Rothschild manuscript and returned to its former owners who donated it to the Jewish National and University Library (now the National Library of Israel). The manuscript was written in Northern Italy ca. 1450, copied and illuminated by (or in the workshop of) the famous scribe-illuminator Joel ben Simeon.

According to Elhanan Adler of the National Library "The manuscript was missing three leaves, probably detached before it was acquired by the Rothschilds. Recently two of the missing illuminated leaves were offered for sale and were purchased for the Library through the generosity of two anonymous donors." The digitized version includes the two recently acquired leaves.

The Rothschild Haggadah can be accessed here

For a description in Hebrew click here.

The Rothschild Haggadah joins another 15th century Hagaddah form South Germany available in digitized form from the National Library website. The "Second Nuremberg Haggadah" is an illuminated manuscript haggadah, apparently from the mid-15th century, and now owned by Mr. David Sofer of London.
According to the Library: "It's name derives from its being held by the Stadtbibliothek Of Nuremberg from the mid-19th century until 1957. Its previous provenance is not known. In 1957 the Haggadah was acquired by the Schocken Collection in Jerusalem and in 2004 was purchased by Mr. David Sofer of London. It is known as the "Second Nuremberg Haggadah" to distinguish it from another illuminated haggadah "the "First Nuremberg Haggada" currently found at the Israel Museum.

The Haggadah contains beautiful illustrations on Passover motifs as well as three cycles of Biblical illustrations related to the story of the Exodus, the lives of the patriarchs, and various later Biblical figures. Many of these illustrations are based on Midrashic stories. The illustrator of this haggada is not known but researchers identify him as identical with the illustrator of another anonymous haggada known as the "Yahuda Haggada" which is found today in the Israel Museum."

For a full description of the manuscript illuminations and the themes they represent prepared by the Center for Jewish art (Hebrew University), together with a bibliography click here.

Happy Pesach!

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