Bellissima Ester. Masterpieces for a Queen.

On the occasion of the Jewish holiday of Purim, the Foundation for the Jewish Museum of Rome and the Jewish Community of Rome in collaboration with the National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah in Ferrara (MEIS), and in agreement with the Centro Romano di Studi sull’Ebraismo (CeRSE) of the University of Rome Tor Vergata open the exhibition Bellissima Ester. Masterpieces for a Queen. Open to the public from March 20 to June 24, 2024, at the Jewish Museum in Rome. The exhibition is curated by Olga Melasecchi, Amedeo Spagnoletto, and Marina Caffiero.

The exhibition, which includes about 40 works including illuminated scrolls, paintings, drawings, manuscripts, ancient volumes, and photographs, analyzes the fascinating figure of Esther who, over the centuries, has been the protagonist of novels, Italian and American films, plays, music, and above all pictorial works.

The exhibition offers a journey inside the most beautiful and valuable Meghillot Estèr (parchment scrolls that tell the story of Purim), displayed together for the first time with their wonderful miniatures. True masterpieces of Jewish art, some of them read within the Five Scoles of the ancient ghetto of Rome. Others were commissioned by private individuals, kept for years with families, and later donated to the Jewish Museum of Rome. Important specimens borrowed from Italian collections. Such as the Meghillà Momigliano, from Casale Monferrato – Museum of Ancient Jewish Art and History and dated mid-seventeenth century. A unique specimen of illuminated and colored parchment.

A number of famous works of Italian Renaissance and Baroque painting by the likes of Michelangelo Buonarroti and Jacopo del Sellaio alternate in the exhibition. Precious works of art depicting the events and characters of the story of Esther. This is a unique opportunity to understand how the biblical story was represented inside and outside the Jewish world, and how much and how iconographic models spread, eventually becoming canonical in the common imagination through cinematic interpretations.  An entirely new vision featuring the figure of Esther, and all the characters in the Purim story, analyzing its interpretations in the Christian world and its connections and differences with the carnival.

An exhibition itinerary that offers a real journey within the story of Purim by focusing on the role of women, the theme of the reversal of fortunes and the physical and moral redemption of the Jewish people. All made possible through a careful selection of materials preserved at Casale Monferrato – Museum of Ancient Jewish Art and History, the Paolo Ravenna Archives, the Uffizi Gallery, the Casa Buonarroti, the National Library of Florence, the University Library of Genoa, the Padua Museum, the State Archives of Rome, the Historical Archives of the Jewish Community of Rome, the L’Occhio Art Gallery and the Jewish Museum of Rome.