Illuminated Hebrew Nudes


I never seen this kind of thing before, the nude in illuminated Hebrew manuscripts.

The first is from a Scroll of Esther, probably German, ca. 1700. It is suggested that these are either allegorical figures or allude to Ahashverosh’s selection of the maidens, Vashti’s women, or female companions assigned to Esther.

The second is a from The Hamburg Miscellany, German, probably from Mainz, ca. 1427. A husband lies under a red blanket waiting while his wife either submerges or emerges from the mikveh. It’s an openly sexual, sweet and touching domestic figure.

The third and fourth are from Seder Berakhot, Vienna 1736 and from Seder Birkat ha-Mazon, Vienna 1724. If I understand correctly, these were costly books meant for women of a higher economic social class.

Both are from Skies of Parchment/Seas of Ink: Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts by Marc Michael Epstein.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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2 Responses to Illuminated Hebrew Nudes

  1. On this, check out chapter six pf Marc Shapiro’s *Changing the Immutable*

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