Rare Torah on Display at The Met

Beginning October 1, The Met debuts a rare 15-century handwritten copy of the Mishneh Torah by the renowned medieval scholar Moses Maimonides.  The work will be showcased in The Lawrence A. and Barbara Fleischman Gallery of Late Medieval Secular Art among other 15th-century works from Europe and will remain at The Met through January 5, 2014.

Created in Northern Italy around 1457 by Marco Barbo, Bishop of Treviso, the Hebrew text includes the eight final books of the Mishneh Torah, or “Repetition of the Law,” the first systematic collection of Jewish law. Amassed between 1170 and 1180 by rabbi, physician, and philosopher Moses Maimonides, the Mishneh Torah is organized by subject matter and contains six large painted panels decorated in exquisite pigments and gold leaf and 41 smaller illustrations with gold lettering decorating the opening words of each chapter.

The beautifully adorned text was acquired jointly by The Metropolitan Museum and The Israel Museum in Jerusalem in April. Prior to its presentation at the Metropolitan, the manuscript underwent restoration at the Israel Museum, where it has been on long-term loan since 2007 and on view to the public since 2010. The Mishneh Torah was purchased for The Israel Museum by René and Susanne Braginsky, Zurich; Renée and Lester Crown, Schusterman Foundation  and Judy and Michael Steinhardt. It was purchased for The Metropolitan Museum of Art with Director’s funds and Judy and Michael Steinhardt Gift.