Micrography

In this print, Hebrew text is arranged to create an image of King Solomon and Queen Sheba.

Mose Elias Goldstein

The art of micrography is a Jewish art form which developed from the masoretic texts. The Masorah (a system of notations/comments that are to ensure the correct transmission of the writing and reading of the Hebrew Bible) was written on the margins of biblical copies and had to be very small. From the beginning of the Middle Ages these Hebrew micro-letters forming a specific text were shaped in abstract, geometric designs. Jews living in Christian areas later shaped the ornamental masorah into “real” figurative pictures. When manuscript writing came to an end after the invention of moveable type, micrography was used mainly for representative, festive, dedicatory versions of the Five Megillot and the Psalms. The invention of lithography helped this kind of graphic art to reach a broad public. From the 19th century onwards, micrography artists used the sermons and speeches of famous rabbis and personalities of public interest to portray them. At the turn of the 19th to the 20th century printed micrographies were popular gifts.

Name: Micrography
Artist: Mose Elias Goldstein
Location:
Origin: Germany: Frankfurt am Main, 1899
Medium: Print, Work on paper
Dimensions: 21 x 17 3/4 in.
Credit: Gift of Georgette Spertus from the Maurice Spertus Collection
Catalog Number: 68.1.73