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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Mishneh Torah

Attributed to Master of the Barbo Missal (Italian)
Maimonides (Cordova 1135–1204 Egypt)
Nehemiah (active northern Italy, mid-15th century)
ca. 1457
Made in Northern Italy
North Italian
Tempera and gold leaf on parchment; leather binding
Binding: 9 7/16 × 8 3/16 × 3 1/4 in. (24 × 20.8 × 8.2 cm) Leaf (of 346 leaves): 8 15/16 × 7 1/4 in. (22.7 × 18.4 cm)
Manuscripts and Illuminations
Credit Line:
Jointly owned by The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2013. Purchased for the Israel Museum through the generosity of an anonymous donor; René and Susanne Braginsky, Zurich; Renée and Lester Crown, Chicago; Schusterman Foundation - Israel; and Judy and Michael Steinhardt, New York. Purchased for The Metropolitan Museum of Art with Director’s Funds and Judy and Michael Steinhardt Gift
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 306
The Mishneh Torah is the magnum opus of Moses Maimonides, the renowned medieval philosopher. This remarkable text consolidates Jewish law into a systematic, comprehensive and accessible anthology, still consulted by rabbis and scholars today.

This manuscript copy of the Mishneh Torah is one of the most sumptuous ever made. Large illuminations illustrating aspects of the law preface different sections of the book. Law books rarely benefitted from such lavish decoration. With no iconographic precedent to guide him, the painter looked to the world around him. Thus the manuscript provides an opulent guide to contemporary costume, buildings, and customs. With its burnished gold letters and inventive narrative scenes, it attests to the refined aesthetic sensibility of the elite members of Italy’s Jewish community.
Abraham Merzbacher, Munich; donated to Stadtbibliothek, Frankfurt am Main(by 1920–1950); Private Collection, Frankfurt and United States (1950–sold 2007); Mr. and Mrs. Michael Steinhardt(2007–13); Steinhardt Judaica Collection sale, Sotheby's, New York(April 29, 2013, lot no. 55)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Jerusalem 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven," September 26, 2016–January 8, 2017.

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