A very rare illuminated Mahzor or prayer book, will feature as top lot in Christie's Books and Manuscripts auction in Paris on May 11.
This superb example, dating from around 1490, was created in Tuscany and provides a unique example of Renaissance Judaica. The 400-page tome was intended as a festival prayer book and contains prayers for an entire year of worship.
The frontispiece displays a magnificent coat of arms, possibly belonging to the Ambron family. The intricate detail is in the style of Giovanni di Guiliano Boccardi also known as Boccardino il vecchi.
"This is the only Hebrew manuscript that we know of that he worked on," said Christie's Kay Sutton. "The other thing that is really quite exceptional about it is that it remains such an intact, unified object in a binding that it must have received early in the 16th century which has the coat of arms of its early Jewish owner."
The beautiful book has been in the same family for almost 100 years, since it was purchased in Frankfurt by Edmond Bicart-Sée. It has never been seen in public before, warranting an estimate of $540,000-$800,000.
The two day sale will see a number of exceptional pieces alongside the prayer book, including Matisse's Jazz (1947).
The sale will feature an original edition of the sought after work, further enhanced by a signature from Professor Paul Santy, who nursed the artist in 1941. The work was created by Matisse in his 70s, while experiencing poor health - meaning he could no longer paint.
The book of 100 prints was compiled by assistants, who printed assemblages which the artist made from cut-outs of coloured paper. It was originally intended as collaboration between Matisse and a French poet, although this was never realised. Featuring original notes from the artist, the work is expected to bring $120,000-$180,000.
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