The James Isidor Kaiser Estate Part II - Important Old Masters, Decorative Art from the 15th-19th Centuries and a Magnificent Clock Collection

סדר קריאת שמע על המטה - כתב-יד מיניאטורי מצויר, אלטונה (?), דנמרק, 1754

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Start price: $20,000

Estimated price: $50,000 - $80,000

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An extremely fine example of a tiny manuscript with delicate charming illuminations, preserved in mint condition.
Scribe: Yehudah Leib of Lissa
This manuscript appears to be an early work of the scribe Yehudah Leib Eliyahu Ha—Cohen from Lissa, Poland, who wrote and painted a Haggadah in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1769, presently kept in Darmstadt, Germany.
See facsimile edition:
Pessah-Haggadah complete facsimile edition in original size of Codex Orientalis 7 – Hessische Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek, Darmstadt by U Haxen, Graz, 1989
Another Haggadah by the same scribe was written in Copenhagen, in 1779. See: Sotheby’s catalogue, Important Judaica, New York, 25.11.1985, no. 19
Yehuda Leib, the scribe of this Seder Kriat Shema, belonged to a group of wandering scribes who were active in Europe during the 18th century. It appears that he first was active in Altona, that had belonged to Denmark and later moved to Copenhagen and worked there. In the Haggadah he indicates that he is "for the time being in Copenhagen", attesting to his wandering from place to place. The later dates of the Haggadahs could explain the considerable difference in the style of the paintings between the early and later manuscripts. It is worth mentioning that in 2016, a letter written by Yehuda leib from Lissa, in Hamburg (?), was Auctioned by "Kedem" (Online Auction 03, lot 164). From the letter it appears that the writer of the letter was involved in leading the Jewish Triple Congregation (Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbek) in the region of Hamburg. His possible connection to Rabbi Leib, the father of the owner of the manuscript, requires further study.
15 parchment leaves, I+II paper flyleaves. On the flyleaves (end leaves) later hand written notations of family events.
8.5 X 5.5 cm. (on each page a linear frame in gold (powder gold), surrounding the text and illustrations, measuring 5.5 X 4 cm.
Gold tooled brown leather binding, impressed on the front side: B.L.G and on the back side: 1754.
Seder/ Kriat Shema/ on bed/ with beautiful paintings/ belonging to the praised maiden/ the dear miss Bona may she live/ daughter of the venerable respected leader/ respected Rabbi Leib may the merciful guard him/ in the letters/ of Amsterdam/ by the young man Yehuda/ Leib from Lissa/
The titlepage inscription tells us that the book was written for the daughter of a respected leader in the community, Rabbi Leib.
The scribe, Yehuda Leib is from Lissa (in German Lissa, in Polish Leszno), Poland. By the title the "young man" (Ha-bahur) he indicated that he has not yet been married.
The Text Illustrations
Fol. 1 – the text is surrounded by a gate. On the right, Moses holding the Tablets of the Law, rays of light projecting from his head (literal translation of the biblical verse that tells that Moses’ face became radiant). To the left is Aaron dressed like the High Priest.
Fol. 2 – illustration to the reading of the Shema upon retiring to bed. A woman is seated by a table with a lit candle and holding an open book. In a canopied bed a man is sleeping. In a cradle a baby is lying, next to it is a seated figure, seen from her back (the nanny?), rocking the cradle.
Fol. 7b – in a room with a canopied bed, a man, wearing a sleeping cap, is sitting at a table with a lit candle. A male servant is taking off his socks, while his shoes are on the floor.
Fol. 8 – a woman is sitting on a bed. A female servant is assisting her with her night gown. To the right, another servant is standing holding an ewer and a bowl for washing. Another servant is drawing down a red curtain covering the window.
Fol. 9b – illustration for "my savior angel" – an angel is hovering in the sky and blowing a horn, and holding another horn in his other hand.
Fol. 11 – illustration to the verse from the Kriat Shema depicting the bed of Solomon surrounded by sixty strong men. Bearded and crowned King Solomon is lying in a canopied bed. Around the bed are standing many soldiers wearing helmets and holding swords.
Decorated Opening Words:
Fol. 2 – the word ברוך in dark purple rectangular blocks, decorated with background drawings of jars with flowers in gold (powdered gold).
Fol. 5 – the word ויהי on a crowned shield, flanked by two rampant lions.
Fol. 6b – the words יי’ מה רבו צרי written on a curtain. Flanked by two warriors holding swords.
Fol. 9 – the opening word יראו written on an oval shield, from which are protruding two branches with green leaved and red fruits.

Catalogued by Dr. Iris Fishof.

Provenance: Estate of Isidor Kaiser, Copenhagen-Hamburg.