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Lot 3

Scroll of Esther and Leaf of Blessings with Illustrations – The Scribe Yehiel Menahem Urbino of Mantua – Gazzuolo, Italy, 1776

Esther scroll inscribed on parchment and a parchment leaf with the scroll's blessings, written and illustrated by the scribe Yehiel Menahem ben Avraham Urbino of Mantua. Gazzuolo (a town 20 kilometers from Mantua), Adar 1776.
"HaMelech" scroll (most columns begin with the word "HaMelech", king), with fine crown-shaped decorations above each appearance of "HaMelech".
Preceding the first column is a large illustration depicting some scenes from the scroll's narrative, against the background of an urban European scene showing, among other things, towers, spires and a fountain. Appearing alongside the illustrations are the relevant Biblical verses (in Hebrew) – "gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the capital, under custody of Hegai", "so they hanged Haman" and "thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor". At the bottom of the illustration, on the parchment's margin, the author signed his name as follows: "By he who performs holy service in Gazzuolo, the young scribe Yehiel Menahem son of Urbino, Thursday 9th Adar, [1776]".
Apparently, while writing and illustrating the present scroll, Urbino had before him an Esther scroll printed in Venice in 1746, with magnificent frames – detailed engravings – by the Italian author and craftsman Francesco Griselini. The illustration preceding the first column is based on Griselini's illustration. Similarly, in the illustration depicting Jerusalem, appearing at the bottom of the leaf of blessings, Urbino apparently took as a model a similar illustration printed in the Amsterdam Haggadah of 1695.
We know of three manuscripts by Yehiel Menahem ben Avraham Urbino, who was the scribe and cantor of the Ashkenazi synagogue in Mantua in the 1740s: two are compilations of the "year-round customs" of the Great Ashkenazi Synagogue in Mantua (attended by, among others, some of Mantua's rabbis, including Rabbi Yehuda Briel, Rabbi Yaakov Saraval, Rabbi Azriel Yitzhak HaLevi and Rabbi Shmuel Chaim Sinigalia). These two compilations are kept in the Meir Benayahu collection and the collection of the New York Theological Seminary. The third manuscript, "Seder HaHoshanot" of the Ashkenazi community in Mantua, is kept in the Bill Gross collection.
For additional information on the scribe Yehiel Menahem ben Avraham Urbino, see the essay by Rabbi Z.Y. Dunner, "Seder of the Year-Round Customs of the Ashkenazi Community in Mantua, Italy" (in "Min HaGenazim", edited by Rabbi Shalom Hillel, vol. 6, pp. 106-109).
Leaf of blessings: ca. 24X21 cm. Right margin cut in a non-uniform manner. Stains, creases and small tears to margins. Height of parchment in the scroll: 24 cm. Tears to beginning of first membrane. Stains. Placed in hard wooden case with velvet lining on the inside.