(active around 1430 in Upper Rhine)

Darmstadt Pessach Haggadah

c. 1430
Manuscript (Ms. Or. 8), 355 x 245 mm
Hessische Landesbibliothek, Darmstadt

This manuscript contains a collection of sermons, maxims and legends from Jewish history, recited on the evening of Passover, which commemorates the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. The sumptuously decorated and illustrated manuscript was probably created by a Christian workshop of illuminators during the period around 1430 in the German-speaking area on the Upper Rhine.

The Pessach Haggadah is distinguished by the inexhaustible abundance of fantastic creatures that are made even stranger by their caparison-like garments, as well as by the high quality of its images, and bold use of brilliant colours. These creatures do not appear eerie or frightening to the viewer but rather as a product of humorous decoration.

The magnificently decorated page (folio 4r) is dominated by the gilded initial word on a black ground which introduces the text below. It is guarded by four grotesque creatures. The two full figures flanking the word are rabbis who are characterised by their pointed hats. The portraits in the corners of the inner and outer frame probably depict members of the congregation.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.