HEBREW PENTATEUCH WITH MOTIF OF THE VIRGIN AND THE UNICORN

Ferrara?, northern Italy, 1472, 12 3/8 x 8 1/2 in. (31.4 x 21.6 cm), MS. Canon. Or. 62, fol. 1a

This manuscript, meant for synagogue use, comprises the Aramaic translation of the Pentateuch, Rashi’s commentary, and additional readings. Most remarkable is the medallion at bottom, with an image of a unicorn resting in the lap of a virgin. It decorates the first page of the book of Genesis, together with Adam and Eve, who are portrayed as sinners bringing death upon the world. The images are Christian in their symbolism, alluding to the Incarnation and the New Creation: Christ is the unicorn and the second Adam; Mary is the virgin and the new Eve.




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