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Rome, Italy, 1771

 

Rome, Italy 1771

 
 

 

This magnificent ketubah faithfully represents the golden era of ketubah illustration in the Jewish community of Rome during the second half of the 18th century.

 

Despite the difficult living conditions for the Jews in Christianity's stronghold, under the patronage of the Pope, members of the community  particulary the rich  tried to order beautiful and compelling ketubot.

 

Roman ketubah illustrations often included allegorical figures that symbolized characters, ideas, places and so forth. Folk artists used popular guidebooks in which the allegories were arranged in alphabetical order in Italian. The artists would choose the characters most fitting to the values of the wedding, such as in this ketubah, which was identified by its Italian name as it appears in the aforementioned guidebooks.

 

​Roman ketubot are also decorated with beloved Biblical figures. Often, these pictures depict stories of heroism and the righteousness of Biblical figures, chosen to serve as an example for the bride and groom who bore the names of the heroes being depicted.

 

This is how Jerusalem came to be portrayed in this ketubah. The groom was Yedidyah Chaim the son of David Bondi. Yedidyah, according to the Midrash, is the name of King Solomon, who was the friend, "yedid", of God. Therefore, the artist drew a scene from the life of King Solomon in the large cartouche above the text: the visit of the Queen of Sheba. The Queen, with a crown on her head, is marching towards the King who is sitting on his throne in his fancy palace on the left. The writing at the top of the picture quotes the verse: "And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon" (I Kings 10: 4). This is a rare imaginary depiction in Jewish art of Solmon's palace, which stood next to his Temple in Jerusalem.

 

It is interesting to note that Yedidyah Bondi was either widowed or got divorced just a few years after his wedding commemorated in this ketubah and was re-married in 1775. The same anonymous artist was again called upon to decorate Yedidyah's ketubah, now preserved in a private collection in Italy. The decorative pattern is very similar to that of the ketubah at the National Library, but in place of the Queen of Sheba the artist drew Solomon's Judgment (Kings I 3: 28).

 

 
 
  

 

Rome, Italy 1771

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Rome, Italy, 1771This magnificent ketubah truly represents the great golden era of ketubah illustration in the Roman Jewish community during the 2nd half of the 18th century. Despite the difficult living conditions for the Jews in Christianity's stronghold, under the patronage of the Pope, members of the community-especially rich members- tried to order beautiful and compelling ketubot.  Roman ketubah illustrations often included allegorical figures that symbolized characters, ideas, places, etc. Folk artists used popular guidebooks in which the allegories were arranged in alphabetical order in Italian. The artists would choose the characters most fitting to the values of the wedding, such as in this ketubah, which was identified by its Italian name as it appears in the aforementioned guidebooks.
 
​Roman ketubot are also decorated with beloved Biblical figures. Sometimes these pictures depict stories of heroism and the righteousness of Biblical figures, chosen to serve as an example for the bride and groom who bore the names of the heroes being depicted. This is how Jerusalem came to be portrayed in this ketubah. The groom was Yedidyah Chaim the son of David Bondi. Yedidyah, according to the Midrash, is the name of King Solomon, who was the friend, "yedid", of God. Therefore, the artist drew a scene from the life of King Solomon in the large cartouche above the text: the visit of the Queen of Sheba. The Queen, with a crown on her head, is marching towards the King who is in the city on his throne in his fancy palace on the left. The writing at the top of the picture quotes the verse, "And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon" (I Kings 10: 4). This is a rare imaginary depiction in Jewish art of Solmon's palace, which stood next to his Temple in Jerusalem.
 
It is interesting to note that Yedidyah Bondi was either widowed or got divorced just a few years after his wedding commemorated in this ketubah and was re-married in 1775. The same anonymous artist was again called upon to decorate Yedidyah's ketubah, now preserved in a private collection in Italy. The decorative pattern is very similar to that of the ketubah at the National Library- but in place of the Queen of Sheba the artist drew Solomon's Judgment (Kings I 3: 28).