Judaica masterpiece sold for 3 times expected price

Rennaissance era Jewish prayer book sells in Paris's Christie's for over 1.8 million euros.

May 13, 2012 00:00
1 minute read.
Renaissance-era Jewish prayer book sold

Renaissance-era Jewish prayer book sold 370. (photo credit: Christie's Images Ltd.)


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PARIS – On Friday, Christie’s in Paris sold at auction an exceptional illuminated masterpiece of Renaissance Judaica – estimated to be worth for 400,000–600,000 euros – for over 1,857,000 euros, a representative of the auction house told The Jerusalem Post.

The Renaissance masterpiece – an illustrated mahzor containing all the liturgical prayers for the whole year, the daily rituals, and the prayers, blessings for Passover, Succot, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana – was part of an auction of old and modern manuscripts and rare book.

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The representative refused to give any information about the identity of the buyer, as that is the policy of the auction house. Coming from a French collection, the masterpiece received its authorization to leave the country, added the source.

The unique book of Jewish prayers dates from the 15th century and is composed of 442 vellum pages. It includes wonderful illuminations, made by Boccardino the Ancient, one of the most preeminent European illuminator. The leather binding dating from the 16th century shows the armorial bearings of a palm tree with one crouching lion each side, heraldic symbols that often represented many Jewish families in Italy during the Renaissance period.

With its beautiful calligraphy in Hebraic letters, the mahzor includes illuminations representing religious ceremonies, the inside of a synagogue, angels and animals.

In the book, the illustrations, the architecture, the synagogue, the clothes and the gilding are in the style of Christian iconography.

The work likely stems from the period 1449-1492 during which Lorenzo the Magnificent favored Jewish culture. Another prayer book of this period is the “Rothschild Mahzor,” kept at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.


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