Auction 93 Part 1 - Manuscripts, Prints and Engravings, Objects and Facsimiles, from the Gross Family Collection, and Private Collections

Sukkah Decoration Panel – Abraham Jeremiah Kalimani and Francesco Griselini – Italy, 18th Century

Opening: $2,800
Sold for: $3,500
Including buyer's premium

Panel created as a sukkah decoration. “Thought out” by Abraham Jeremiah Kalimani, “painted” (or “engraved”) by Francesco Griselini. [Italy, probably Venice, mid–18th century, ca. 1750].
Engraving on paper; partly painted.
Decorative panel made to be hung on a sukkah wall, conceived by Abraham Jeremiah Kalimani, and created by Francesco Griselini. Kalimani – son of the renowned 18th–century Venetian rabbi, grammarian, poet, and playwright, Simcha Kalimani – is designated here by the Hebrew title “chashav” (lit. “thought out, ” probably in the sense that he “conceived” or “planned” the work). Abraham Kalimani’s name is also mentioned on a panel printed in Venice in 1761–62, as well as on a Venetian wall plaque printed in 1766–67. Francesco Griselini (1717–1787), described here by the Hebrew title “tzayar” (probably in the sense of “illustrator” or “engraver”), was an artist/engraver who gained fame mostly thanks to engravings he created for Esther scrolls in the 1740s, for a number of map engravings, and for various engravings he made as illustrations for bibles and prayer books printed in Venice in the 1750s.
A large cartouche appears in the middle of the present panel. It is meant to be inscribed with some form of greeting or verse related to the Sukkot holiday; this particular panel features the biblical verse (in Hebrew) “Surely the wrath of man shall praise You; You will gird Yourself with the remainder of wrath” (Psalms 76:11). The cartouche is adorned with patterns of fruit and various other vegetal patterns. Appearing inside the cartouche are two additional illustrations of trees, specifically an olive tree growing out of a pitcher on the right, and a palm tree on the left. The panel’s outer frame bears illustrations of two scenes connected to the Sukkot holiday. At the top of the sheet is a depiction of the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire that descended from heaven at the time of the dedication of Solomon’s Great Temple in Jerusalem (“So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud…” [I Kings 8:11]). And at the bottom of the panel is an illustration portraying the “Simchat Beit HaSho’evah” (the joyous Festival of the Water–Drawing, originally celebrated in the vicinity of the Temple in Jerusalem toward the end of the Sukkot holiday). The four medallions placed in the upper margin bear depictions of the following: a sukkah, King Solomon standing before the altar, Solomon’s prayer (“And the king turned his face about and blessed…” [I Kings 8:14]), and images of sukkahs and the collection of “skhach” (vegetal thatch for the sukkah roof). In the bottom margin – on the right and on the left – are illustrations depicting Aaron the Priest and his brother Moses.
Several panels of this type are known to exist (bearing verses from Psalms 76). Mordechai Narskiss writes in regard to the copy found in the Israel Museum collection: “Of great interest is a single sheet to be found in the Bezalel National Museum in Jerusalem, and it is an engraving by a non–Jewish engraver by the name of Francesco Griselini who signs in Hebrew and relates that the sheet was created under the influence or “thinking” [of] Abraham Jeremiah Kalimani […] From the mark of the Puah family stamped onto the engraving, we are given to understand that the sheet was issued by one of the printers of that family [whose members were] active in Venice in the 1740s, and indeed we find this ‘BiSukkot’ [decoration mentioned] among the listings of books they published” (it is unclear whether Narkiss actually saw a similar copy with his own eyes, or whether he simply identified the palm tree as the Puah family’s trademark emblem. Excerpted from Mordechai Narkiss, “The Sukkah and its Decorations, ” published in “Ogdan LaMoreh – Shloshet HaRegalim, ” 1980, Hebrew).

Fair condition. Stains and dampstains (mostly to edges). Tears and blemishes, most mended professionally. Mounted on cardboard panel. Middle portion of sheet (approx. 25X13 cm) was apparently replaced with a strip from another sheet, or restored.

• The Art of World Religions: Judaism. By Michael Kaniel. Poole, 1979, p. 108.
• Only on paper: Six Centuries of Judaica from the Gross Family Collection, CD, 2005.

• L'art en fête : Roch ha-Chana, Yom Kippour, Souccot, Hochana Rabba et Sim'hat Torah, by Michèle Fingher et al., Jerusalem, ADCJ, 2012, p. 53.

• Moïse : figures d'un prophète, by Anne Hélène Hoog. Paris, 2015, p.155.
• Jewish Court of Venice: the Heritage of Jewish Venice 500 Years after the Establishment of the First Ghetto, by Andereina Contessa. Jerusalem, Museum of Italian Jewish Art, 2016, p. 15 (Hebrew).
• Oltre il ghetto, edited by Andreina Contessa, Simonetta Della Seta, Carlotta Ferrara degli Uberti, and Sharon Reichel. Milano, Silvana editorial, [2020], p. 270, no. 31.

Provenance: The Gross Family Collection, Tel Aviv, No. 038.011.008.

Calendars, Braodsides and Posters – Graphics and Prints