Photo © Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Elie Posner
Esther Scroll
Northern Italy
Mid-18th century
Handwritten on parchment; ink, gouache, gold and silver paint
Loan from Judy and Michael Steinhardt, New York
Accession number: L-B99.018 ; 182/195
The scroll is divided into nineteen columns of text surrounded by illustrations. At the top of every other column is a familiar allegorical figure alongside a biblical verse; at the bottom of the columns are scenes from the Book of Esther. Each set of these three elements emphasizes a different moral virtue. Thus, at the top of the first column is a figure identified with moderation and victory over the evil inclination, alongside the verse: “If you find honey, eat only what you need” (Prov 25:16), while at the bottom of the text is a depiction of Ahasuerus’s banquet.
The design of the allegorical figures was influenced by Cesare Ripa’s allegorical book, published in Rome in 1593 – a book that was highly popular among both Christian and Jewish artists.

Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir