Joseph Ha-Ẓarefati

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JOSEPH HA-ẒAREFATI , illuminator of the Cervera Bible of 1300 (see Illuminated *Bibles). Joseph ha-Ẓarefati ("the Frenchman") is one of the first Jewish artists known from medieval Europe. His colophon (fol. 449) stating: "I, Joseph ha-Ẓarefati, illustrated this book and completed it," which terminates the manuscript, is written in large anthropomorphic letters, each line framed by a colored band. Joseph's illustrations to the Bible are important as an example of early illuminated Castilian Bibles. No other extant illuminated manuscript was signed by Joseph, but the accomplishment of his work indicates an experienced artist. His style is influenced by 13th-century northern French illumination; the iconography of his illustrations is partly Castilian and partly French, but mostly his own invention. It is probable that his work influenced many artists, especially Joseph *Ibn Ḥayyim, who in 1476 used the Cervera Bible as a model for illustrating the First Kennicott Bible, where even the colophon is a direct imitation.


Mayer, 2221, 2229, 3009 c; C. Roth, Gleanings (1967), 316–9; B. Narkiss, Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts (1969), 15, 245, 252; Schirmann, Sefarad, 2 (1956), 417.

[Bezalel Narkiss]