Auction 30
Books, Manuscripts, Rabbinical Letters

Lot Number 266

Illuminated Manuscript, Etz Chaim by Rabbi Chaim Vital – Eastern Europe, 18th Century – Numerous Impressive Illustrations and Decorations

Sold For
135,300$
Opening
20,000$
Lot Number 266

Illuminated Manuscript, Etz Chaim by Rabbi Chaim Vital – Eastern Europe, 18th Century – Numerous Impressive Illustrations and Decorations

Illuminated manuscript of the book Etz Chaim, the Ari's teachings by his disciple Rabbi Chaim Vital. [Eastern Europe, 18th century.]
Elaborate and extraordinarily beautiful manuscript, richly illustrated with impressive, decorated initials, images and adornments. Handsome Ashkenazi-style Rashi script, with emphasis and titles in square letters.
The manuscript opens with an introduction by Rabbi Chaim Vital and rules by the Ari and Rabbi Chaim Vital. This is followed by the second section (Sha'ar Drushei HaIgulim VeHaYosher), mistakenly titled "First Section." (The remaining sections are correctly numbered.) The scribe omitted Sha'ar HaKlalim (Section of Rules), the first section.
The manuscript contains glosses by Rabbi Ya'akov Tzemach, written in a smaller handwriting. The scribe added several glosses and annotations from other books, in the margins.
A similar manuscript with like illustrations – apparently by the same scribe – is in the collection of the Etz Chaim Library in Amsterdam, with the name of the scribe, "Dov Ber Ben Chaim […] of Podhajce [Galicia-Poland]", and the date, 1780. (See item 182 in "Treasures from the Library Ets Haim / Livraria Montezinos", Jerusalem: Jewish National and University Library, 1980.)
The manuscript includes dozens of lavishly illustrated title pages (She'arim), located at the beginning of most of the sections of the work. The decorations and motifs, some of which are heraldic in style, differ for each title page. Amongst them are an Ouroboros (a snake biting its own tail), two crowned lions rampant, a stork and crocodile entwined with the crocodile's head in the stork's beak, a double-headed eagle, two stags erect, and – at the beginning of the tenth section, Sha'ar HaMelachim [Kings' Section], – illustrations of imaginary ' faces of kings and others.
The ends of the sections are adorned with embellishments influenced by the Rococo style and the spirit of the period: foliage, flowers, branches, leaves, seashells; and a lion and a stag in a thicket. The end of the Arich Anpin section is decorated with an image of a crocodile biting its own tail, framing a number of portraits. At the end of Sha'ar HaAkudim is an illustration of Ya'akov Avinu with branches in the troughs, images of striped, speckled and spotted sheep, and an intricate representation of the scene of the Binding of Isaac.
Also decorated with ornately illustrated initials, some historiated, with animal, fowl and fish designs.
Owners' stamps "Shlomo […] Ben Nissan." Several owners' handwritten glosses. A gloss at the end of Section 44 notes, "Lacking an entire leaf and Chapter 1, see printed editions" (this refers to the scribe's omission of the title page and an entire section from the end of Section 44).
2-14; 1-227; 227-307 leaves (lacking one title page). 24cm. Good condition with some staining. The majority of the leaves are complete. Sporadic small tears to some leaves and drawings, caused by the ink etching into the paper. A few leaves have tears restored with paper. All edges gilded and engraved. Original binding, decorated with gilt blind stamps, slightly rubbed.

Sold For
135,300$
Opening
20,000$

Auction house commission: max 23%

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