In the museum's collection, a unique Book of Esther is preserved. It is decorated with colorful and lively miniatures that accompany the text of the scroll. This scroll possesses an interesting symmetry between the descriptions at the top and those at the bottom, and the scenes that are side by side: the king's feast versus Vashti's feast, outdoor scenes versus indoor scenes, enthroned Queen Esther and Ahasuerus and advisers before them.
Esther was indeed a queen but most of all she was a true heroine. Esther planned to come before King Ahasuerus and to invite him to her feast. She was concerned as she was not allowed to approach him unless she was called upon first. Her actions could have cost her her life, so she fasted for three days and asked her maidens to fast with her. An engraving from the museum's collection depicts Esther standing in front of her husband Ahasuerus. She is weak and scared and is supported by one of her companions. According to the scroll, Ahasuerus hands Esther his scepter and promises to grant her "up to half the kingdom." The artist who made the engraving before you chose to depict Ahasuerus as he got up from his chair and reached for Esther's face in concern as she fainted before his eyes. In doing so, the artist emphasized the king's affection for his queen.
Another biblical queen is the daughter of Pharaoh. The book of Exodus describes the daughter of Pharaoh who goes down to bathe in the Nile with her handmaidens and there she discovers the ark containing the baby Moses. Pharaoh's daughter realizes that the baby is a Hebrew and yet decides to save him and raise him as her own. Throughout history, many artists have depicted Egypt and the Egyptians. Many times they portrayed them as contemporaries. In this way, Egypt and the Nile became more similar to Venice, and the daughter of Pharaoh- a noble queen dressed in the height of 17th century fashion. Thus was created the engraving below.
Book of Esther,
Northern Italy, late 17th century
Handwriting on parchment decorated with engraving and painted margins
Donation from the Shapira family
The Queen's Feast, except from the Book of Esther
Medallion with Esther before Ahasuerus
Engraving on paper
Moses in the box
Class Whistler (1587-1652)
Amsterdam, 17th century
Engraving on paper
Pharaoh's daughter goes down to bathe Bior, except for Moshe in the ark