Scribe: Aaron Wolf Herlingen (ca. 1700 –
Seder Tikkunei Shabbat
Manuscript on vellum; ink, gouache, and gold powder; gold filigree binding, 5.8 x 4
Long after the invention of the printing press, there was a revival of manuscript writing in 18th-century Central Europe. Aaron Wolf Herlingen, the scribe and illustrator responsible for this tiny book of Sabbath prayers, religious songs and poems, and Kabbalistic customs, is one of the revival’s best-known figures. Born in Gewitsch, Moravia, he was a leading member of the school of Hebrew scribes active in Vienna. He worked for Jews who played a prominent role in European commercial and cultural life but remained attached to their Jewish identity. Like their Christian neighbors, they were willing to pay substantial sums for works of art and would order lavishly illustrated and sumptuously bound religious books from artist-scribes.
Although the name of the person who commissioned this book is missing, he must have been very wealthy; perhaps he was even a court Jew. The quality of the script, the illustrations and illumination, and the unusual gold filigree binding make this a remarkable book.