Artibus et Historiae no. 40 (XX)

1999, ISSN 0391-9064

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COLIN EISLER - The 'Rabbi' of the Sobieski Hours: Jewish Scholarship and the Spell of Christian Art

The article explores several of the reasons for the long-standing prominence of Jewish scholarship, collecting and dealing in Christian art. Until the last twenty years, those marked by a sudden emergence of Jews in major corporate, legal, governmental and administrative posts, the study of Christian art by Jews has been a most noteworthy achievement.

A major early fifteenth-century Franco-Flemish Book of Hours at Windsor Castle is known as the Sobieski Hours. This contains an enigmatic, lengthy Hebrew paean inscribed in the back (the Jewish front) of the sacred Christian text. These words praise the illuminator's inspired, divine powers, dated 1687. The article strives to identify just who the author of the text was, and to which Polish Jewish community he belonged. It is concluded that he was a Karaite of Troki.

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