Illuminated Hebrew Manuscripts from Renaissance Italy: A Means to Acculturation without Assimilation

Unaffiliated Independent Scholar
New York, NY
Art History and Criticism


My book deals with the ways in which members of a religious minority used the patronage of illuminated codices as a means of acculturation within their host country. In emulation of the cultural elite of Italian society, wealthy Jews in Italy commissioned professionally copied and decorated manuscripts. They employed celebrated Christian illuminators to create luxurious books that consciously rivaled those of renowned Christian patrons. My analysis of these codices demonstrates how they reflect an adaptation of Italian practices in the choice of texts that were decorated, as well as a preservation of religious identity through their distinctive illustrations. My study will show how without resorting to assimilation, a unique minority used fine arts as a way to become part of the culture in which they lived. Along the way, some of the most magnificent illuminated manuscripts from the greatest period of book illumination in Italy were produced.