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Rylands Haggadah in New York

Plague of beasts

Haggadah: Plague of beasts, Hebrew MS 6

The Rylands Haggadah, a spectacular fourteenth-century Hebrew manuscript, has been loaned to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York where it is on display. The manuscript is the centrepiece of the exhibition 'The Rylands Haggadah: Medieval Jewish Art in Context', which runs from 27 March to 30 September.

James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford, sold the Haggadah to Enriqueta Rylands in 1901, as part of the world famous Crawford collection of manuscripts. The manuscript has recently been digitized by the CHICC team and it will also be made available as a narrated eBook facsimile this spring.

The manuscript is one of the finest Haggadot in the world. It is important for its intrinsic beauty and for various textual details, but it is also a key source for the study of the illumination of Hebrew manuscripts in general. It shines a light on the tradition of Biblical illustration among the Jews of the Middle Ages and on the cross-fertilisation between Jewish and non-Jewish artists within the medium of manuscript illumination.

It will be flown to the United States accompanied by Conservator Steve Mooney who has spent the last eight months securing the areas of pigment and gold leaf which had started to crack and flake. To maintain the high level of concentration needed, he could work on the manuscript for only two to three hours a day, viewing the damaged areas under a microscope.

Jan Wilkinson, University Librarian and Director of the John Rylands Library, said: "We are immensely proud of the Rylands Haggadah, and we are delighted to share it with an international audience, by loaning it to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and through the eBook digital facsimile."

Updated: Mon, Mar 26, 2012