UPDATE: I have reluctantly taken down the video that I had originally included in this blog post, in response to the request that I received from the scholar whose comments I had taped at Monday’s “Rosh Hashana Pop-Up”—a public talk about two important manuscripts that were displayed at the Met.
Two “Renaissance Masterpieces of Judaica,” as described in the Metropolitan Museum’s press release, have enriched the Jewish High Holidays at the New York museum, thanks to a cooperative initiative among the Met, the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), New York. On view in the Met’s gallery for “Italian Sculpture and Decorative Arts, 1500–1600” (chockablock with its “Arms & Armor” gallery) are the a manuscript copy Mishneh Torah of Maimonides (“one of the most sumptuous ever made,” with “large illuminations” and “lavish decoration”) and the Rothschild Mahzor (High Holiday prayer book) on loan from the JTS.
I was fortunate to catch one of the Met’s under-publicized, irreverently titled “Rosh Hashana Pop-Ups” (can you imagine a “Christmas Pop-Up” or an “Easter Pop-Up”?) last Monday, when I was there for the museum’s crowded “Manet/Degas” press preview. The speaker (not a Met employee), who asked that I not identify her by name, noted that the Mishneh Torah is “a unique text, because we have Jewish scribes working mostly with Christian artists. It provides insight into the cross-fertilization of all different types of individuals working during the Renaissance period….Both manuscripts point to the snapshot not only of Jewish history but also the Italian Renaissance and how these two cultures were intertwining and existing at the same time.”
As CultureGrrl readers may remember, the Mishneh Torah recently returned to the Met after a five-year stint at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, which had purchased it jointly with the Met in 2013. It is described on the Met’s collection website as “the magnum opus of Moses Maimonides, the renowned medieval philosopher.”
Here are my close-ups of the two manuscripts, the pages of which are turned by the Met every three months:
And here’s my video of the informative “Pop-Up.” [Video now deleted, at the request of the speaker.]
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