[HEBREW MANUSCRIPT]. An attractive signed eighteenth-century Hebrew decorated manuscript from Kittsee
Grace after meals and various other prayers and blessings, with Yiddish indications. Copied and decorated by Hayyim ben Asher Anshel. Kittsee (Habsburg, now Eastern Austria), 1753.
Fol. 1r: titlepage
Fol. 1v-7v: Birkat ha-mazon (Grace after meals)
Fol. 8rv: Birkat ha-nehenin (Blessing on enjoyments)
Fol. 9r-17r: Keriat shema al ha-mittah (Shema prayer said before going to bed)
Fol. 17v-23r: Sefirat ha-omer (Counting of the Omer)
Fol. 23v-27r: Tefillat ha-derekh (Prayer for travellers)
Fol. 27v: blank
Fol. 28r- 29r: Seder shalosh mitzvot leha-nashim (sic) (Three additional blessings for women)
Fol. 29v-31v: blank
Vellum, 114 x 74 mm., 31 unnumbered leaves (the last 4 on paper). Dark brown ink, certain headings executed in gold. Sephardic square and semi-cursive and Ashkenazic semi-cursive "Otiyyot Amsterdam" in various sizes (occassionally some minor darkening). Original Viennese binding, red-dyed vellum over pasteboard, elaborately decorated in silver, two Viennese silver clasps, marker's mark "A.H." (rebacked, some chipping along edges, silver oxidized).
The manuscript contains four illustrations and a number of other decorative elements, executed in pen and ink, some opening words in gold.
Fol. 1r: Architectural titlepage, showing Moses (right) and Aaron (left) on either side of the main text, as well as King David playing the harp (above), flanked by two sitting lions. The base of the architectural structure holds an owner's inscription
Fol. 1v: Opening word panel 'Barukh', with floral designs
Fol. 2v: A menorah
Fol. 3r: Haman on the gallows
Fol. 7r: Opening word panel 'Barukh', with angel's head and floral designs
Fol. 7v: Floral decorative device
Fol. 9r: Opening word panel 'Barukh', with birds and floral designs
Fol. 13r: King Solomon in bed, surrounded by his heroes
Fol. 14v: Opening word panel 'Ashre', with angel's heads and floral designs
In the year 1735 the Jewish community of Kittsee, now in eastern Austria, consisted of 155 adults and 111 children. In 1780 363 Jews lived in Kittsee. Hayyim began his career as a teacher there in 1725, but there are no manuscripts known which were done by him before 1741. Today, approximately 20 manuscripts by our artist, including those that are unsigned but may be ascribed to him, are known to exist. With one exception (a Passover Haggadah finished in Vienna in 1748 which is now in private hands), these manuscripts were all produced in Kittsee. He died in Kittsee in 1784, where his tombstone is still preserved on the Jewish cemetery.
PROVENANCE: Blimele, the daughter of the leader Abraham Segal (cartouche at the bottom of the titlepage shows the name of the patroness); Abraham Zinsheim, a father, dated 1754 (fol. 29r a later inscription, of a death entry); Robert Marx of Hilford, Connecticut, USA (dedicatory inscription "To Robert, from Grandma, June 15, 1953" on final flyleaves. Mentioned as the owner of the manuscript in Alexander Scheiber's article of 1980, see below).
Scheiber, A., "Five more works by Hayyim ben Asher Anshel," Studies in bibliography and booklore 6 (1964) p. 133-141; Scheiber, A., "Die Anfänge der jüdischen Kunst im Burgenland," H. Gold,. ed., Gedenkbuch der untergegangenen Judengemeinden des Burgenlandes (Tel Aviv 1970) p. 121-122; Scheiber, A., "Zwei unbekannte Werke des Illustrators von Kittsee, Chajjim b. Ascher Anschel," Zeitschrift fr die Geschichte der Juden viii (1971) p. 51-56; Scheiber, A., "The Jewish artistic school of Kittsee. Illuminated manuscripts of Hayyim ben Asher Anshel and Moshe Zanvil Kittsee," Journal of Jewish Art 7 (1980) p. 44-49. The present manuscript is listed as No. 24 there and described and illustrated on p. 46; Scheiber, A., "Hayyim ben Asher Anshel," Yeda-'Am. Journal of the Israel Folklore Society 3 (1955) p. 22-23; Schrijver, E.G.L. & A.I. Weber, "Katalog der ausgestellten Gegenstände," in: E. Grabherr, ed., Geschichten von Gegenständen. Judaika aus dem Beziehungsraum der Hohenemser Juden. The Gross Family Collection. Eine Ausstellung [...]/Jewish ritual objects and the stories they tell. Artefacts in the Gross Family Collection, Tel Aviv, pertaining to the cultural world of the Jews of Hohenems. An exhibition [...] (Hohenems 1994) p. 93-95; Schubert, U., Jüdische Buchkunst. Zweiter Teil (Graz 1992), s.v.
Christie's is grateful to Dr Emile G.L. Schrijver, curator of the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, Special Collections, Amsterdam University Library, who studied the manuscript and shared his notes with us.