"Es, pues, la fe la certeza de lo que se espera, la convicción de lo que no se ve" (Hebreos 11:1).

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, "Fides," from the series The Seven Virtues, 1559

Rosso Fiorentino, Allegory of Salvation (Allegoria della Salvezza), 1521. Oil on panel, 161.3 x 119.4 cm. LACMA, Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The figures may be identified as the Virgin and Christ Child, St. Elizabeth, the Young St. John the Baptist, and two cherubim.
Curator's note. "Rosso Fiorentino was trained in the Florentine High Renaissance tradition, but reacted against its emphasis on beauty, balance, and harmony. As an early mannerist artist, he instead painted asymmetrical, emotionally charged compositions. His work was admired by the poet Aretino, and Rosso was named painter to the king of France. He died in France, possibly by suicide. The subject of this unfinished painting is still unknown. The woman in blue at the right is the Virgin; she holds the frightened Christ Child in her arms. At the left the young Saint John the Baptist reclines in a troubled sleep and almost appears to be dead. The identity of the old woman at the left is unclear. She may be Saint Anne (mother of the Virgin), Saint Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist), or a Sibyl from classical mythology who foretold the future. This haunting image is one of the museum's masterpieces. Mannerist artists often were influenced by other works of art. Here Rosso portrayed the young Saint John in a posture reminiscent of the dead Christ in Michelangelo's Pietà, a source easily recognized by viewers of the day, but Rosso abstracted the figures to project an intensely personal vision. His rapid application of the paint, more noticeable because the painting is unfinished, reinforces the work's uneasy urgency and visionary quality" (LACMA).

The Reformation
Law and Grace: A Lutheran Allegory of Salvation
Also known as Fall and Redemption or Damnation and Salvation
The argument is conveyed through visual parallelism and contrast.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Allegory of Law and Grace (Gesetz und Gnade), 1529. Oil on panel, 72 × 88.5 cm. National Gallery, Prague. The composition of the painting is divided into two sections, but in a less rigid and schematic manner than is the case in other versions of the same subject. The nude figure is seated on a tree trunk centrally in the foreground. His head is inclined to the left and his arms are folded. A prophet from the Old Testament is on the side of Law. He bends down to the nude figure and appears to speak with him and points with his left hand to the crucifixion on the side of Grace. As such he can be identified as St John the Baptist. The picture shows Luther's idea of human existence, which occurs in a state between Law and the Gospel, while the Law, a pre-requisite for salvation, leads man to Christ. The Fall of Man and the Brazen Serpent appear on the left side. Instead of being pursued by Death and the Devil, the man lies in an open grave on the left side wearing a shroud and thus clearly juxtaposes Death on the left with the resurrection of Christ on the right side. The resurrected Christ stands in front of the burial cave, under his feet lie the vanquished Devil with Death. The sacrificial Lamb stands above the cave with the crucifix. Behind is a rocky outcrop and the Virgin stands on the summit encircle by heads of angels in a cloud with her hands clasped, and as such is characterized as just. The Christ child floats down to her from a gloriole with a T-shaped cross and in anticipation of the conception. The Virgin thus also represents a role model for the Faithful with respect to the humble and passive acceptance of God's will. Like the Old Testament equivalent on the side of Law, that is to say like Moses, who kneels to receive the tablets of the commandments from God's hands.

Cranach the Elder, Allegory of Law and Grace (Gesetz und Gnade), Wittenberg, 1529. Tempera on lime, 82.2 × 118 cm. Herzogliches Museum, Gotha. This painting is sometimes referred to as "Fall and Redemption."
Inscr. Vom Regenbogen und gericht. Ess wird Gottes zorn offenbart vom himmel vber aller menschen Gotloss leben vnd vnnrecht. Roman. 1. / wier seind allzümal sünder vnndt mangelnn des preises /das sie sich Gottes nicht rühmen mügen Roman. 1.
Vom Teüffel vnd Todt / Die Sünnde ist des Todes spieß aber das gesetz ist der sünden / krafft.1.corinth.15. Das gesetz Richtet zornn ahn. Roman.4.
Vom Mose vnd den Propheten / Durch das gesetz kömet erkentnüs der sünden Roman.3. / Matthei.11./ Das gesetz vndt propheten gehen bis auff Johannes zeitt.
Vom Menschen / Der geRechte lebett seines glaübens Roman.1. / wier halten das ein mensch geRecht werde den glaüwen / on werch des gesetzs Roman.3.
Vom Teuffer / Sihe das ist gottes Lamb das der welt sunde tregt / sant Johannes Baptist Johannis.2. / In der heiligüng des geistes zum gehorssam vnd bespreg / üng des blütes Jesü Christi amen.1.petri.1.
Von Tode vnd Lamb / Der Tod ist verschlungen v(o)m sieg Tod wo ist dein spisß / helle wo ist dein sieg: danck hab Gott der vns den siegk gegeben / hat dürch Jesüm christüm vnsern herren.1.coerinth.15.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Allegory of Law and Grace, 1529. Oil on wood, 2 panels, each about 72 x 60 cm. Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg. This Lutheran allegory teaches how the salvation of mankind is attained through the grace of God. On the left, Death and the Devil drive the sinner into Hell, while the law of the Ten Commandments cannot help him at the Last Judgment; he tree has withered. By contrast, on the right, John the Baptist points to Christ, who has died for mankind; the Resurrection and the leafy crown of the tree signify life, which the grace of God bestows on the faithful. This depiction of Lutheran theology long belonged to the Protestant canon of images.
Inscr. von links nach rechts:) "Sie sind alle zumal sunder: vnd / mangeln das sie sich Gottes nicht / rhümen mügen. Roma iij [Römerbrief 3,23]". "Die sunde ist des todes spies: aber / das gesetz ist der sunden krafft. / 1.Cor.15. [Korintherbreif, 15,56]". "Das Gesetz kompt erkentnis / der sünde. Ro.iij. [Römerbrief 3,20]". "Das gesetz vnd / alle Propheten: gehen bis auff Johannis zeit. Matthei xi [Matthäus 11,11]". "Der gerecht lebt seines glaubens / Ro.i. Wir halten das der mensch / gerecht werde durch den glauben: / on des gesetzs werck. Ro.iij. [Römerbrief 3,28]". "Sihe: das ist Gottes lamb: welchs / der welt sünde tregt. Jo.i. [Johannes 1,29]". "In der / heiligung des geistes: zum gehor=/ sam vnd besprengung des blutes / Ihesu Christi. 1.Petri.i [Brief Petri, 1,2]". "Der tod ist verschlungen ym sieg / Tod: wo ist dein spies: Helle: wo ist dein sieg. Gott aber sey danck der vns den sieg gibt: dvrch Ihe=/ sum Christu(m)s vnsern Herrn. 1.Cor.1 [1. Korintherbrief 1,55 und 57]". - Geflügelte Schlange nach rechts.

Cranach the Elder, Allegory of Law and Grace, engraving, 1529-30. Schlossmuseum, Weimar. This version omits the Scripture written passages quoted in the painting.

Lucas Cranach the Elder was a friend of Martin Luther and created An Allegory of Law and Grace to put Luther’s ideas into visual form. The left side of this work depicts Catholic ideals, showing that the children of Adam and Eve must perform specific tasks in order to get to heaven. On the right side, Lucas Cranach depicts Luther’s outlook, the Believer’s sins are washed away, because faith in Christ alone guarantees salvation. In opposition to the hardness of the Law, the Gospel brings hope which is symbolized by the blooming branches of the tree. This work is very straightforward; Cranach omits illusions of space and complicated textures. The left and right panels not only show the Old and New Testament but a division between death and resurrection. The work interprets the roles of law, faith, good works, faith and grace in the human relationship to God. The purpose of this work seem merely functional, swaying the viewer towards Martin Luther’s interpretation of the Bible. The simplicity of this work made it accessible to all German people.

R. W. Scribner, For the Sake of Simple Folk: Popular Propaganda for the German Reformation, Cambridge University Press, 1981, pp 216-217: "The most effective and successful of the doctrinal representations came from the school of Lucas Cranach, the contrast between the Law and the Gospel, or the Old and New Testaments. The earliest example from Lucas Cranach the Elder comes from the later 1520s. It is based on the antithesis, a form used so often throughout Reformation propaganda. The visual space is divided down the centre by a tree, to the left of which is depicted the Law as expounded in the Old Testament. In the left background, Adam and Eve east the fruit of the tree of life after being tempted by the serpent. As a result of this original sin, man is the prey of death and the Devil, through he can only be damned, indicated by the two figures hounding Man into the jaws of hell. This is Man under the Law, signified by Moses holding the tables of the Ten Commandments, with other Old Testament prophets behind him. In the clouds above, Christ as Lord of the world sits judging man, with the sword and the lily in his ears. Two figures, Mary and John the Baptist, seek to interced[e] for sinful man, although in vain. The gloomy message of the Old Testament and the Law, which only condemn man, is also signified in the barren branches on the Old Testament side of the antithesis formed by the central tree.
In opposition to the hardness of the Law, the Gospel brings hope, signified by the blooming branches on the New Testament side of the tree. In the background is depicted, however, an Old Testament scene, the brazen serpent, the figure of Christ's saving death on the cross. On the hill in the right background Mary receives the rays of heavenly grace, signifying the incarnation, further indicated by the angel bearing the cross down to her. To the left, further indicated by the angel brings the news of the birth of the Saviour to the shepherds on the hills of Bethlehem. The main figures on this side depict the events through which the Gospel message is realised. The crucified Christ sheds his saving blood in a stream onto man. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit, the dove through which the stream passes, this becomes the saving water of baptism. Man has his attention called to the sacrificial death of Christ by the figure of John the Baptist. Beneath the crucifix is the paschal lamb, the symbol of Christ's victorious death, which is completed by his resurrection. This is depicted in the bottom right-hand corner, where Christ overcomes death and the apocalyptic beast, representing the Devil. This completes man's release from sin and death, neatly balancing the corresponding depiction on the far left.
This schema became one of the most popular themes of the Reformation, largely because it captured so effectively the gist of Luther's doctrine. Indeed, it seems to have been most directly inspired by some of Luther's expositions on the theme of the Law and the Gospel, such as that in his commentary on Galatians. It was a wholly biblical depiction and relied on signs accessible to every person of the time. Above all, it established a uniquely evangelical position, without reference to papal or Catholic teaching. It could be used purely as a visual representation, or supplied with appropriate biblical references.... The Law is headed by a citation from Romans 1.18: "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men." The Gospel is headed by a verse of Isaiah 7.14, which shows the prophetic link between the Old and New Testaments: "The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son." Beneath the depiction of hte Law are quotations spelling out its significance ( Romans 3.23; 1 Corinthians 15.56; Romans 4.15; Romans 3.20 and Matthew 11.13). The Gospel is likewise supplied with texts on faith (Romans 1.17 and 3.21 --both classic expressions of the basic Lutheran doctrine that the just live through faith), and expressing the hope of salvation (John 1.29; 1 Peter 1.2 and 1 Corinthians 15.55). The combination of scriptural texts and visual signs expressing their content made such a depiction the evangelical version of the Pauper's Bible (Oneonta).

Romans 3.23: For all have sinned, and do need the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 15.56: Now the sting of death is sin: and the power of sin is the law.

Romans 4.15: For the law worketh wrath. For where there is no law, neither is there transgression.

Romans 3.20: Because by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified before him. For by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Matthew 11.13: For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

Romans 1.17: For the justice of God is revealed therein, from faith unto faith, as it is written: The just man liveth by faith.

Romans 3.21: But now without the law the justice of God is made manifest, being witnessed by the law and the prophets. Even the justice of God, by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all of them that believe in him: for there is no distinction.

John 1.29: The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world.

1Peter 1.2: According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, unto the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you and peace be multiplied.

1 Corinthians 15.55: For this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this moral must put on immortality.

For an examination of the theme of the "Law and the Gospel" in the visual arts, see Carl C. Christensen, Art and the Reformation in Germany (Athens, Ohio, 1979): 124-130; R.W. Scribner, For the Sake of Simple Folk: Popular Propaganda for the German Reformation, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1981, 216.219.

Catholicism vs. Protestantism

Gartner, Art through the Ages, chap. 23: Northern Renaissance Art

Hans Holbein, The Old and New Testaments, 1532-35. Oil on panel, 64.2 x 74.2 cm. National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
The images and inscriptions provide a painted sermon. The central theme is encouraged by the Reformation.
Hans Holbein the Younger summarizes the Bible on one panel. On the left the decay of the Old Testament, on the right the salvation as offered by the New Testament. Decay and salvation are divided by a tree with dead branches on the left. In the center a sitting man is shown the right way by the prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist.
This division coincides with the reformist Bible interpretation, where the period of the Old Testament is seen as a time of sin and penalty. The New Testament shows the way to mercy.
Man (HOMO) has neglected Moses' law (LEX), what lead to sin (PECCATUM, illustrated here by Adam and Eve's original sin) and eventually to death (MORS). Even Moses' brazen serpent could not cure man (MYSTERIUM IUSTIFICATIONIS).
On the right Jesus offers grace (GRATIA), justice (IUSTIFICATIO NOSTRA) and even victory over death (VICTORIA NOSTRA). John shows the way, which leads through the Lamb of God (AGNUS DEI).
This allegorical and very moralistic panel is still somewhat medieval and is therefore seen as an exception in Holbein's work. It is clearly inspired by a panel that Lucas Cranach made in 1529 (Art and the Bible).

Rowlands, Holbein, p. 93: "The most significant work that Holbein produced to promote the tenets of the Reformers is The Old and New Law, formerly at Ince Blundell Hall, and now in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh..... Obvious thematic parallels to this elaboration of the new Reformation interpretation of the relation between the Old and New Testaments are found in the works of Lucas Cranach and his school. From 1529 onwards Cranach's workshop was producing paintings with explanatory texts of the Fall and Redemption of Man, and probably in the next year, Cranach himself designed a woodcut of the same subject and composition, whose message was based on the same attitude to the doctrine of salvation as that put forward in Holbein's painting. They were arranged in a broadly similar composition with a tree, alive on one side, dead on the other, dividing the picture into two equal halves, signifying the old and new Dispensations. In this new theological interpretation of scripture, the Old Testament was seen more as a contrast and antithesis to the New Testament, and less as a prefiguration of the New, as previously occurred. To the Reformers in their polemic the Old Testament was made to stand for the 'Old Religion', an antipathy confined in the Middle Ages to that between the Synagogue and the Church. Luther had been urging on Christendom for many years the vital significance, as he saw it, of the Pauline antithesis between the Law of the Old Testament, which brings only consciousness of sin, and the Redemption through faith in Christ, whose death on the cross is a full expiation for 'the sins of the whole world.' The appearance from Cranach's studio of the first pictorial didactic expositions of this doctrine in the same year as the publication of Luther's 'Little Catechism' can hardly be an accident. The reformer had been considering too, ever since the iconoclasm prompted by Karlstadt at Wittenberg, the provision of a new iconography to match and explain the new theological interpretations he was advocating. Both the paintings and prints by Cranach and his workshop and that by Holbein clearly expound Luther's interpretation of the Pauline text and include doctrinal features of the late medieval painting tradition for the representation of the Old Law, of which Luther strongly disapproved. These were subjects, such as the Last Judgement, in which the 'double intercession' of Christ and the Virgin was a key element --a futher bone of contention between himself and the Catholic theologian, Johann Eck." For the Edinburgh panel, see Fritz Grossmann, "A Religious Allegory by Hans Holbein the Younger," Burlington Magazine 103 (1961): 491-494 (Suny Oneonta, State University of New York).

"Law and Grace," Bugenhagen Bible, Lübeck, 1533. Woodcut by Erhard Altdorfer. A large tree divides the image between events the Old Testament from the New Testament. On the left side, Old Testament, Moses on Mount Sinai receives the tablets of testimony from God. Also visible is the Fall of man and a coffin, symbolizing death. The leaves of the tree are dry while on the right side (New Testament) the leaves are fresh, symbolizing the work of Christ. Also on the right side are the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. At the foot of the tree man is to decide between Moses and John the Baptist, who points at Christ who will pardon all his sins.

Franz Timmermann, Fall and Redemption (Sündenfall und Erlösung), 1540. Oil on panel, 39.2 × 31.8 cm. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg (Bildindex).

Franz Timmermann, Fall and Redemption (Sündenfall und Erlösung), 1540. Oil on wood, 55 × 59.2 cm. Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne (Bildindex; Kulturelles Köln

Law and Grace, mural, 1542. Restored 1695. St. Nicolai Lutheran Church, Mölln, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Lucas Cranach the Younger, Law and Grace, from the Cranach Biblel, illuminated manuscript, vol. 3, 1542. Anhaltische Landesbücherei Dessau (Complete folio published by Shatzkammer der Reformation).

Hans Holbein the Younger, Last Supper of the Protestants and Pope's Descent into Hell, engraving, 1546 (The Art Atlas).

Lucas Cranach the Younger, Allegory of Salvation, 1557. Oil on wood, 260 x 200 cm. Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig

"Law and Grace," Bible of Brest (Biblia Brzeska), Poland, 1563. Biblioteka Tarnow

Pierre Reymond, Allegory of the Redemption, oval stand for ewer, 1566. Painted enamel on copper, 37 x 50.2 cm. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. In Northern Europe the cultural revolution of the Renaissance developed alongside the religious and political revolution embodied in the Reformation. This ewer-stand is decorated with a Lutheran allegory in which Man is placed between Sin and Redemption. Man is seated at the foot of a tree which is withered on the left side and in bloom on the right. On the left of the composition are pictured the Original Sin of Adam and Eve and other scenes from the Old Testament. Death is represented allegorically by the skeleton stretched on a tomb. On the right is the Lamb of God, symbolic of the Grace bestowed on Man in the New Testament. The resurrecting figure of Christ rising from the tomb represents the victory over Sin and Death. The enamel states in visual terms the teachings of St. Paul that man's salvation depends solely on the Grace of God and not on the prescriptions of the Old Testament Law or of the Church of Rome. Parading around the border are all manner of fantastic creatures- a windmill with a face, trumpeting fauns, snails riding elephants, hares, dragons and even irreverent caricatures of an emperor, a pope, a cardinal and two monks. Such grotesques were the product of the lively imaginations of French and Flemish artists who were working at the French royal court at Fontainebleau.

Peter Nagel (publisher), Print after Lucas Cranach the Younger, BrM 1868,0612.472, 1567. Engraving, 21.7 x 32.2 cm. British Museum, London. Landscape with a personification of Mankind seated on a tomb at centre, flanked by Moses at left and St John the Evangelist at right, biblical scenes from Old and New Testament in background (e.g. Adam and Eve, the brass serpent, Christ on the Cross). Inscr. "Lex per Moisen data est gratia et veritas per Iesum Christum Dominum Nostrum."

Statius von Düren, Law and Grace, terracotta relief, c. 1575. Fleichhauerstraße 20, Lübeck

Statius von Düren, Law and Grace, terracotta tripartite relief, 1575. Schloss Gadebusch, Landkreis Nordwestmecklenburg, DE

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, "Fides" (Geloof), from the series The Seven Virtues, 1559. Preparatory drawing. Ink on paper, 22.3 x 29.4 cm. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam Inscr. "Fides maxime a nobis conseruanda est praecipue in religionem quia deus prior et potentior est quam homo" (We kept the faith, especially in religion, because God is previous and more powerful than man). Faith (Fides); church interior with a nun standing on the lid of the opened grave of Christ with the Tablets of the Law (Old Testament) on her head and an opened book signifying the New Testament in her right hand; the congregation gathers around her to receive the sacraments; a monk giving a sermon from the pulpit at right (BrM).

Engraving by Philips Galle, 1561-62. Print, 22.5 × 29 cm. Published by Hieronymus Cock. Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale, Cabinet d'Estampes (Zeno; WKMC).

Peter Paul Rubens, The Triumph of the Church over Fury, Discord and Hate, 1625. Oil on panel, 63.5 x 105 cm. Museo del Prado, Madrid
En 1625 la archiduquesa Isabel Clara Eugenia encargó a Rubens el diseño de una serie de diecisiete tapices con destino al Monasterio de las Descalzas de Madrid. Tratan el tema de la Eucaristía, dogma principal del catolicismo que la infanta defendía como princesa soberana de los Países Bajos meridionales. Las escenas fueron concebidas por Rubens a modo de desfiles triunfales, simulando ser telas colgadas de arquitecturas barrocas, que provocaban una efectista duda entre realidad e imagen artística. Las seis tablas que custodia el Prado (P01695-P01700) forman parte del proceso necesario para la realización de los tapices: son los modelos pintados por Rubens en los que se basan los cartones, mucho mayores, que los tapiceros usaron para confeccionar los tapices. Fueron propiedad del marqués del Carpio en 1677, y pasaron en 1689 a poder del rey Carlos II. Durante el siglo XVIII, cuatro de los cuadros sufrieron añadidos en sus cuatro costados y dos en su parte inferior y superior. En la escena de Santa Clara entre los padres y los doctores de la Iglesia (P01695), Santa Clara muestra el rostro de la Archiduquesa. Tanto el lenguaje alegórico, como muchos de los motivos de estas imágenes son de inspiración clásica. En Triunfo de la Verdad Católica (P01697), el Tiempo, con la guadaña, y la Verdad, aparecen rodeados de herejes vencidos por el pánico. El león y el zorro luchando, son símbolos de la fuerza de la Iglesia que vence a la astucia de la Herejía. En el Triunfo de la Iglesia (P01698), la mujer con la lámpara personifica a la Iglesia Triunfante, que empuja a la Ceguera y la Ignorancia, mientras la alegoría de la Iglesia, sosteniendo la custodia y coronada con la tiara papal, aplasta con su carro al Odio, la Discordia y la Maldad. En la escena Triunfo del Amor Divino (P01700) la figura femenina personifica el Amor y la Caridad, el ángel que lleva el corazón llameante es el Amor Divino, y el pelícano que alimenta a sus crías con su sangre, la Eucaristía. En el cuadro Triunfo de la Eucaristía sobre la Idolatría (P01699), la imagen del dios clásico que se ve al fondo reproduce la escultura del Zeus de Olimpia de Fidias. La combinación de elementos paganos y cristianos es característica de la cultura del humanismo cristiano que predominó en Europa en los siglos XVI y XVII {Prado).

Destinados al convento de las Descalzas Reales de Madrid, Rubens pintó una serie de cartones para tapiz con el tema del Triunfo de la Iglesia sobre sus enemigos encargados por la gobernadora de los Países Bajos, la archiduquesa Isabel Clara Eugenia. Concretamente en esta escena, la Iglesia -representada por una mujer sobre un carro triunfal portando la Eucaristía- arrastra a la Ceguera y la Ignorancia, pisando con las ruedas de su carro al Odio, la Discordia y la Maldad. Un ángel subido en un caballo lleva las llaves y el pabellón papal.La composición, como todas las de la serie, está llena de movimiento y de diagonales y escorzos, siguiendo el característico estilo del artista. Las figuras se sitúan en primer plano para implicar al espectador. El dinamismo de la escena se acentúa con el colorido y el claroscuro empleado. Para desarrollar aun más el concepto de barroquismo que marca toda la obra de Rubens, ha recurrido a colocar dos columnas barrocas en los extremos y dos arquitrabes en la zona superior e inferior. A esta arquitectura ha adosado la escena como sí de un tapiz se tratara, aludiendo al cuadro dentro del cuadro tan habitual en esta época. Fuera del supuesto tapiz se observa la bola del mundo, aprisionada por la serpiente que simboliza el mal. El simbolismo de la composición alcanza a los colores: azul, carmín y blanco para las virtudes y oscuros para los vicios. El Triunfo de la Eucaristía sobre la Herejía y el Triunfo de la Eucaristía sobre la Idolatría también forman parte de la serie (Arte Historia).

Triunfo de la Eucaristía sobre la Idolatría, 1625. Rubens tiene una inmensa imaginación para representar de manera satisfactoria los encargos que le solicitan. En este caso se trata de unos bocetos para tapices destinados al convento de las Descalzas Reales de Madrid encargados por Doña Isabel Clara Eugenia, gobernadora de los Paises Bajos. La Fe Cristiana irrumpe victoriosamente en el interior de un templo pagano, desbaratando la ceremonia de la inmolación del toro. Los sacerdotes y acólitos huyen ante la potente luz del Sacramento que porta el ángel, volcándose todos los elementos del sacrificio. La composición se desarrolla a través de diagonales, tanto en plano como en profundidad, marcadas por el claroscuro y el intenso color. El dinamismo de la escena se transmite a los espectadores para marcar la victoria de la Fe Cristiana, creando una escena de marcado acento barroco. El Triunfo de la Iglesia y el Triunfo de la Eucaristía sobre la Herejía también forman parte de la serie (Arte Historia).

Peter Paul Rubens, The Triumph of the Catholic Faithh, 1625. Cartone. Oil on panel. Musée des beaux-arts, Valenciennes

Frontispiece of The Holy Bible, England, 1633 (Repr. Bowyer Bible, 1840, Volume 1, Print 11; Bolton Museum, Lancashire, UK).

Caspar Luyken, Figures of the Bible, Amsterdam, c. 1698 (Repr. Bowyer Bible, 1840, Volume 1, Print 9; Bolton Museum, Lancashire, UK).

The Old Testament, Bowyer Bible, 1840, Vol. 1, Print 10. Bolton Museum, Lancashire, UK

Allegory of Salvation, Bowyer Bible, 1840, Vol. 1, Print 4. Bolton Museum, Lancashire, UK


Hebrew Manuscripts

Preserved and displayed in the British Library, London


Full list of Hebrew Digitalised Manuscripts

Vera Basch Moreen, List of Judaeo-Persian Manuscripts, 1995

A Judeo-Arabic Serial issued in Bombay

The title page for vol. 3. no. 35 of Doresh tov le-‘amo, published in Bombay in June 1858. BL, ORB 40/595

Published in Bombay from 1856 to 1866, the serial Doresh tov le-‘amo takes its Hebrew title from a biblical verse (Esther 10:3) which roughly translates as 'Seeking good for one’s people', a fitting name for a journal purporting to inform and educate the community. The English subtitle The Hebrew Gazette was only added with the eleventh issue. In the first two years of circulation the journal appeared fortnightly, then weekly until 1866 when publication finally ceased.
Printed by lithography, the language used throughout is the Judeo-Arabic dialect of the Baghdadi Jews penned in their distinctive Hebrew cursive script. Due to these peculiarities, the journal’s readership was obviously limited to the Baghdadi Jewish community. The first two issues were lithographed on blue paper by Sason ben David Sason who, as acting editor, set out the main goals of the journal in an opening essay. Thereafter, editorial responsibility passed on to David Hayim David, Doresh tov le-‘amo being subsequently printed on white paper, except from numbers 8, 9 and 16 for which blue paper was again used.
The serial’s most salient features are undoubtedly its unique calligraphy and decorated front pages of individual issues, particularly those printed in the years 1857-1858. As seen– in issue no.35, vol.3, June 1858 – the ornamentation is fairly simple consisting mainly of floral embellishments flanking the title panel and a pair of sketchy steamboats serving as text markers.
Each issue imparts a wealth of information, ranging from general news such as the movement of ships in and out of Bombay harbour, to notices relating to the local Baghdadi Jewish community, such as for example weddings and philanthropic acts. Historical articles and short accounts on overseas Jewish communities were published only occasionally.
The front pages are excellent sources of information in their own right, the one shown here being no exception. Not only does it provide details of the weekly Torah portion and prophetical readings for the Sabbath service, but it also shows the tidal periods and even the exact timing of the cannon firing at the Fort of Bombay. The first steamboat, marked 'London' in Hebrew script, announces the sailing of a ship to England via Aden and Suez on June 4th 1858. The ship, which was serviced by the Peninsular and Oriental Company, ran a postal collection the day before sailing.
This journal provides a fascinating insight into the social and cultural habits of the Baghdadi Jews of Bombay, as well as glimpses of Indian life in the early second half of the 19th century (Ilana Tahan, A Judeo-Arabic Serial Issued in Bombay, 2013).

45 Hebrew Manuscripts go Digital

We previously alerted our readers to a landmark digitisation project aimed at opening up the British Library’s invaluable repository of Hebrew manuscripts (Opening up the Hebrew Manuscript Collection). Over a three-year period 1250 objects from this outstanding collection, comprising well over 3000 manuscripts, would be made freely available online.
The project has been made possible by a £1.2 million lead grant from the Polonsky Foundation. This significant award has provided a springboard for attracting additional funding for this ground-breaking initiative.
Dr Leonard Polonsky, Chairman of the Polonsky Foundation said, "I am delighted that these important and beautiful treasures have been made more widely available for the public to enjoy. I look forward to seeing the entire collection online and freely accessible in the future."

The Golden Haggadah. Miriam and her maidens rejoicing (top right); distribution of haroset ('sweet meats') by the master of the house (top left); preparations for Passover (lower right and left). BL MS Add. 27210, f. 15r

We are very pleased to announce the launch of the first 45 Hebrew manuscripts on the Library’s Digitised Manuscripts site. The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh features prominently within this small corpus of handwritten books. Tanakh is an acronym based on the first letters of each of the sections that make up the Hebrew Bible, namely Torah (Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses), Neviyim (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings). The Torah is considered the most sacred part of the Hebrew Bible, because, according to tradition, Moses wrote it at divine dictation.
Among the released biblical treasures viewable on the Digitised manuscripts site is the London Codex (Or. 4445) one of the oldest surviving Hebrew Bibles. This manuscript bears great similarities with the Aleppo Codex (930 AD) and the Leningrad Codex (1008-1010 AD), held respectively in Jerusalem and St. Petersburg.
It contains the masoretic notation compiled by Aaron Ben Asher, a tenth-century scholar from Tiberias, Palestine. Ben Asher’s notation is considered to be the most authoritative masoretic version extant. The Masorah is a body of rules of pronunciation, spelling, vocalization and intonation of the scriptural text, intended to preserve it and transmit it correctly.
The London Codex was probably copied in Egypt or Palestine around the 10th century. The more recent paper additions with Yemenite square script are from the 16th century. As its colophon is missing, the exact date and place of its creation are unknown. The scriptural text was penned in a neat oriental square script in three columns per page. The masoretic notation was copied above, beneath and in between the textual columns. The scribe’s name Nissi ben Daniel, who apparently was also the punctuator, is embedded in the masoretic rubrics on folios 40r, 113v, 139r. The manuscript was acquired by the British Museum in 1891 from a private collector.
With the Jewish Passover approaching, we are also thrilled to launch digitally the Golden Haggadah (Add. 27210), one of the finest surviving Haggdah manuscripts from medieval Spain and the British Library’s most famous Hebraic treasure. Haggadah, which literally means ‘telling’, is the service book for Passover Eve recounting the story of the Israelites’ miraculous liberation from slavery in Egypt. Created in Catalonia, probably in or near Barcelona around 1320 AD, this elegant manuscript written and illuminated on vellum, consists of three distinct parts: a series of small illustrations (miniatures) depicting biblical scenes, the Haggadah text, and religious poems for the Passover festival.

Moses (holding a staff) leads the Israelites out of Egypt (top left); Pharaoh’s army in pursuit (lower right); crossing of the Red Sea (lower left). The Golden Haggadah, BL MS Add. 27210, f. 14v

The sumptuous illuminations found in the preliminary section of the manuscript (fourteen full pages of miniatures) are set against gold-tooled backgrounds, and have earned the manuscript its name. They were executed by two unnamed artists in the Gothic style common in Europe at the time. Gothic style decorations also embellish the Hebrew text in the second part of the manuscript and include foliage scrollwork, illuminated words, zoomorphic letters and text illustrations of significant Passover symbols.

Zoomorphic lettering with dogs and rabbits spelling ve-yotsiany (and we were taken out [of Egypt]…). The Golden Haggadah, BL MS Add. 27210, f. 36v

The manuscript's earliest known owner was Joav Gallico, Rabbi in Mantua in 1602 and formerly a judge in Governolo. The Golden Haggadah was a wedding gift to Eliah Rava who married Gallico’s daughter, Rosa, in Carpi, on 25th October 1602, as recorded on the title page added on a blank page in the manuscript.

The Matsah (unleavened bread), one of the obligatory foods consumed during the Passover festival. The Golden Haggadah, BL MS Add. 27210, f. 44v

The Maror (bitter herb) which symbolises the hard life endured by the Israelites while in Egyptian bondage. The Golden Haggadah, BL MS Add. 27210, f. 45v

The last private owner of this gem was Joseph (Giuseppe) Almanzi (1801-1860), an Italian-Jewish poet, born in Padua, who was an avid collector of rare books and manuscripts. We do not know when the Golden Haggadah entered Almanzi’s manuscript collection, which was bought in 1864 by the British Museum, and now belongs to the British Library (Ilana Tahan, 45 Hebrew Manuscripts go Digital, 2014).

Judeo-Persian Bibles

Written in Hebrew characters, Judeo-Persian manuscripts and imprints are essentially works composed in a Persian dialect that closely resembles ‘classical’ or ‘literary’ Persian, combined with Hebrew words. The practice of writing the Persian language in Hebrew letters has been in use by Jews in Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia for over a millennium. Similar practices had equally been adopted by Jews living in other diaspora communities. Relevant examples include works in Arabic (see my previous post “A Judeo-Arabic serial printed in Bombay”), German, Greek, Italian and Spanish which were written or printed in Hebrew script. The centuries-long tradition of utilising the Hebrew alphabet for the local language was the diaspora Jews’ manifest way of preserving their identity and their cultural and historical heritage.

Torat Adonai, Constantinople: Eliezer ben Gershom Soncino, 1546. Beginning of Genesis with 2 woodcuts of the Hebrew letter 'bet'. BL Or. 70.c.10

Torat Mosheh (‘Moses’ Law’), a Judeo-Persian translation of the Five Books of Moses or Pentateuch copied in 1319, and Torat Adonai, (‘God’s Law’), a polyglot Pentateuch containing Jacob Tavusi’s Judeo-Persian translation, which was printed at Constantinople in 1546, are undoubtedly true gems in the Library’s collection.

Our rare copy of Torat Adonai is a beautifully crafted specimen boasting a finely decorated title page and handsome woodcuts of initial Hebrew letters. It was printed at the press of Eliezer Soncino, the last member of the famed Jewish Italian family of printers. The family was named after Soncino, a town in the Duchy of Milan in northern Italy, where it set up a Hebrew printing-press in 1483. Eliezer worked at Constantinople from 1534 to 1547 taking over the printing branch his remarkable father Gershom had established there a few years prior to his death in 1533 (Ilana Tahan, Important Judeo-Persian Bibles in the British Library, 2014)

Torat Adonai, Constantinople: Eliezer ben Gershom Soncino, 1546. Detail. The right column contains Jacob Tavusi's Judeo-Persian ('Farsi' in Hebrew) translation. BL Or. 70.c.10

Decorated title page of Torat Adonai, Constantinople: Eliezer ben Gershom Soncino, 1546. BL Or. 70.c.10

Opening up the Hebrew Manuscript Collection

Hebrew Bible, Italy, 13th century. Decorated opening to the Book of Isaiah. BL, Harley 5711, f. 1r

This summer saw the beginning of a major project to digitise 1250 Hebrew manuscripts held in the British Library. Funded mainly by the Polonsky Foundation, the three-year project aims to make these invaluable manuscripts freely available to scholars and the public worldwide. The manuscripts are being photographed in-house by the Library’s Imaging Services team, and stored in preservation format. Detailed catalogue records will be available for each manuscript, to enable users to search by various fields such as date, place of origin, author/scribe and keywords to find manuscripts of relevance to their work. All manuscripts will be displayed in their entirety on the Library’s Digitised Manuscripts site free of charge. We will also create a special ‘tour’ of the manuscripts on the website, highlighting aspects and themes of the collection in order to introduce it to wider audiences.
Acknowledged as one of the finest and most important in the world, the British Library’s Hebrew manuscripts collection is a vivid testimony to the creativity and intense scribal activities of Eastern and Western Jewish communities spanning over 1,000 years. In the collection there are well over 3,000 individual objects, though for this project we are focusing on just 1,250 manuscripts.
The collection is strong in all major areas of Hebrew literature, with Bible, liturgy, kabbalah, Talmud, Halakhah (Jewish law), ethics, poetry, philosophy and philology being particularly well represented. Its geographical spread is vast and takes in Europe, North Africa, the Middle and Near East, and various countries in Asia, such as Iran, Iraq, Yemen and China. Included in the project are codices (the large majority), Torah scrolls and Scrolls of the Book of Esther. Hebrew is the predominant language of the material to be digitised; however, manuscripts that were copied in other Jewish languages utilizing Hebrew script, such as Aramaic, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Greek, Judeo-Italian, Judeo-Persian, Judeo-Spanish, Yiddish, and others, have also been included in the project.
The collection contains numerous items of international significance, including the following:
Over 300 important biblical manuscripts including the London Codex dating from c. 10th century, one of the oldest Masoretic Bibles in existence and the Torah Scroll of the Jewish community of Kaifeng.
Anglo-Jewish charters in Hebrew and Hebrew/Latin attesting to the Jewish presence in England before the expulsion of the Jewish population in 1290 by King Edward I. They include debt acquittances (releases from debt), attestations (formal confirmations by signature), and other types of contractual transactions between Jews and non-Jews.
A collection of 142 Karaite manuscripts, one of the best Karaite resources in the world, comparable only to the Abraham Firkovitch Karaite manuscript collection in St. Petersburg.
Some 150 illuminated and decorated manuscripts representing the schools of medieval Hebrew illumination in France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Treasures include the Golden Haggadah, the Lisbon Bible, the North French Hebrew Miscellany, the Duke of Sussex German Pentateuch, the Harley Catalan Bible, and the King’s Spanish Bible.
About 70 manuscripts containing texts of the Mishnah and the Talmud (Jewish legal code), and about 130 manuscript compendia and commentaries on Talmudic and Halakhic topics by some of the greatest Jewish luminaries such as Moses Maimonides, Rashi, Moses ben Jacob of Coucy, Isaac of Corbeil, and others. Many of these manuscripts date from the 14th and 15th centuries, with some dating back to the 12th century (Ilana Tahan, Opening up the Hebrew Manuscript Collection , 2013).

Digital Hebrew Treasures from the British Library Collections

In an earlier communication we informed our readers about a far-reaching 3-year project funded by the Polonsky Foundation, which aims to digitise 1250 Hebrew manuscripts held at the British Library, making them available to a global audience.
The first 45 Hebrew manuscripts that went live on the Library’s Digitised Manuscripts site last April (45 Hebrew manuscripts go digital) included chiefly Hebrew Bibles, such as the supremely significant London Codex dating from c. 9th century (Or 4445), and the elegant Golden Haggadah a medieval Passover liturgy sumptuously illuminated in Catalonia in the 14th century (Add MS 27210).

Detail of a miniature of the second plague, of frogs from the 'Golden Haggadah', Spain, 2nd quarter of the 14th century. BL, Add Ms 27210, f 12v.

Our devoted followers will be pleased to learn that our recent upload broadens the scope for discovery and research even further with over 300 Hebrew manuscripts now online. The manuscripts included in the latest ingest present a wider diversity of subjects, thus, apart from Bibles and biblical commentaries, one will find liturgies, manuscripts of the Talmud (large corpus of Jewish law and tradition; includes the Mishnah and the Gemara), Talmudic commentaries, midrash (rabbinic commentary on the Hebrew scriptural text) and halakhah (the legal component of Talmudic literature).
There is additionally a greater variation of languages. Though a fair number were written in Hebrew, languages such as Aramaic, Arabic and Judeo-Arabic (Arabic in Hebrew characters) are well represented. A good example of a Judeo-Arabic manuscript is Or 2220, a commentary on the Mishnaic order Mo’ed (Festivals) by the illustrious Jewish sage Moses Maimonides (1138-1204) which was penned in the 15th century in Yemen. Noteworthy too are the handwriting styles employed in these handwritten books, with square, semi-cursive and cursive Hebrew scripts peculiar to the geographic areas the scribes originated from. Add MS 26992, Tikune ha-Ri”f, a legal work by Abraham ben Shabbatai Del Vechio (d. 1654) written apparently during his lifetime, provides a fine example of an Italian cursive type of Hebrew writing. A Sephardi semi-cursive Hebrew hand can be identified in Harley MS 5719, a 15th century manuscript copy of the Mishneh Torah (Repetition of the Law), the legal code Maimonides composed between 1068 and 1078 while living in Fustat (Old Cairo), Egypt. Or 2220 mentioned earlier provides a good specimen of a semi-cursive Yemenite hand.
Among the uploaded manuscripts there are significant Karaite biblical commentaries and Karaite works dealing with religious legal matters that will form the subject of a future blog. For a full list of the manuscripts that are now online, please follow this link, Hebrew digitised mss_November 2014. Note that if the hyperlinks don't appear to work, you should refresh your browser.
The present upload features a considerable number of decorated and illuminated pieces representing all the schools of Hebrew manuscript painting that thrived in Europe between the 13th and 15th centuries. A beautiful two-volume Bible with subtly coloured illuminations is a telling example of Hebrew manuscript art that developed in Italy in the last quarter of the 13th century.

Menorah (Temple Candelabrum) flanked by foliate scrolls inhabited by animals and hybrids. Italy (Rome or Bologna?). BL, Harley MS 5710, f.136r

A splendid example of the art that developed particularly in Southern Germany in the Lake Constance area during the 14th century is found in the Tripartite Mahzor, a festival prayer book for Shavu’ot (Festival of Weeks) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). This is in fact the second volume of a three-volume manuscript. Volumes one and three are kept respectively in the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest (Kaufmann Collection MS A384) and in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (MS Michael 619).

Historiated word panel depicting Moses, at left, receiving the Tablets of the Law on Mount Sinai, with Aron and the Israelites standing in prayer. Trumpets and rams’ horns pierce through the clouds, marking the occasion. The gilded word Adon in the centre of the panel opens the liturgical poem ‘The Lord has taken care of me’ which is recited during Shavu’ot, a festival celebrating the giving of the Torah to the Israelites. Germany, c.1322. BL, Add MS 22413, f. 3r

Decorated word panel showing a man with a pitcher and a cup at the opening of a liturgical poem. Germany, c. 1322. BL, Add MS 22413, f. 148r

An additional specimen from the German school of Hebrew illumination is the beautifully executed Coburg Pentateuch which was produced c. 1396. Beside the Five Books of Moses (the Torah) it comprises the Five Scrolls, Haftarot (weekly readings from the Prophets) and grammatical treatises. The text of the Pentateuch was penned in an Ashkenazi square script by a master scribe named Simhah Levi, while the vocalization was done by Samuel bar Abraham of Molerstadt. The other textual parts in the codex were penned and vocalised by other scribes.

King Solomon, famed for his justice and wisdom is depicted seating on a throne shaped like the roof of a building. At his feet there are several animals, most likely hinting at his ability to converse with the animal kingdom. Coburg, Germany, c. 1396. BL, Add MS 19776, f. 54v

A magnificently illuminated codex crafted in France in the 13th century is the North French Hebrew Miscellany. It was written by Benjamin the Scribe, whose name appears four times in the manuscript. The absence of a colophon has led scholars to assume that the scribe wrote the manuscript for his personal use. This was common practice among medieval educated Jews who often copied important Hebrew texts for their own libraries. There are eighty-four different groups of texts in this codex including dozens of poems, the liturgy of the entire year, calendars, and the earliest complete Hebrew version of Tobit. According to scholarly research the 49 full-page miniatures depicting biblical characters and narratives were executed by Christian artists attached to three major contemporary Parisian ateliers.

David and Goliath. France, 1278-1298. BL, Add MS 11639, f. 523v

Aaron the Priest pouring oil in the Candelabrum. France, 1278-98. BL, Add MS 11639, f. 114r

From the Portuguese school of Hebrew manuscript painting comes the Lisbon Bible, a three volume manuscript which was copied by Samuel ben Samuel Ibn Musa for Joseph ben Judah called Elhakim in 1482. The finely painted illuminations enhanced by gold leaf were executed by a team of skilled craftsmen in a Lisbon workshop which was active for the three decades preceding the expulsion of the Portuguese Jewry in 1497. The manuscript was sold to the British Museum in 1882, but nothing is known about its location and owners after 1482 until the year it was purchased by the British Museum (Ilana Tahan, Digital Hebrew Treasures from the British Library Collections, 2014).

Beginning of the Book of Genesis with foliate motifs and Masoretic notation outlined in micrography. Lisbon, 1482. BL, Or 2626, f. 23v


The Barcelona Haggadah, service book for Passover eve. Historiated initial word panel with Barukh (Blessed) opening the Havdalah benediction (Separation) recited at the end of the Sabbath. Note the lush marginal foliage scrolls, interwoven with humans, birds and hybrids. Catalonia, Spain, c. 1370. BL Add MS 14761, f. 26r

A family celebrating Passover, from the Barcelona Haggadah. Service book for Passover eve. BL Add MS 14761, f. 28v

The San'a Pentateuch. San'a, Yemen, 1469. Section from Shirat Ha'azinu (Give Ear; Deuteronomy:32) the lyrical poem Moses recited in front of the Israelites before his death. The central decoration consists of micrography (patterns outlined in minute script) and medallions inspired by Islamic art. BL Or.2348, f. 152r

The Lisbon Bible, volume 2. Embellished opening with juxtaposed borders to the Book of Amos. Lisbon, Portugal, 1482 . BL Or 2627, f. 252r

Source - The Polonsky Foundation and and the Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project at the British Library

On Hybrids

Prayer book, vol. 2

Joseph Kara
Festival prayer book for Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) and Sukkot (Feast of the Tabernacles), German rite (aka the 'Tripartite Mahzor' ) including biblical readings: The Book of Ruth and the Book of Ecclesiastes with Joseph Kara's commentary
Germany, S. Area of Lake Constance, c. 1322

The codex is the second volume of a three-volume prayer book; the first volume is kept in Budapest (Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Kaufmann Collection MS A384), and the third volume is in kept in Oxford (Bodleian Library MS Michael 619). Originally the prayer book constituted a two-volume codex.
The manuscript is related stylistically to the Duke of Sussex Pentateuch (Add 15282) and the Gradual of Saint Katharinental (Zürich, Schweizerisches Landesmuseum, Frauenfeld, LM 26117).

Additional 22413

Additional 22413 f. 131 Shemini Atzeret

Add 22413 f. 71 Mixed The Book of Ruth

Add 22413 f. 85 Bird-headed figure Sukkot

Add 22413 f. 148 Historiated initial-word panel Man Simhat Torah

Add 22413 f. 98 Hybrid Initial-word panel. Detail of a page: inhabited initial-word panel with foliate and vine scroll decoration, and a hybrid, at the beginning of a liturgical poem for the second day of Sukkot composed by Eleazar ha-Kallir (Davidson vol. 1, no. 13).

Add 22413 f. 106 Hybrids Book of Ecclesiastes. Detail of a page: inhabited initial-word panel, Divrei (The words of the Preacher), at the beginning of Ecclesiastes.

Festival prayer book, Mahzor, according to the Askenazi rite. Askenazic 'Gothic' square script, Germany, 1st half of the 14th century. BL Add MS 26896, f. 337v

Additional Heb. Mss. Resources

A Digital Revolution

BL Hebrew Manuscripts Website

HUJI Vienna

Vienna, ÖNB, Cod. Heb. 75, fol. 37
Siddur, with a Small Book of Commandments (the "SeMak"), and a calendar.
Lake Constance School, 1468
The initial words Ha Lahma (This is the bread), (Vienna, ÖNB, Cod. Hebr. 75, fol. 37), in the Vienna Siddur-"SeMak," resemble a decorated page with the word Kol (All) from the Tripartite Mahzor (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Mich. 619, fol. 100v) from the Lake Constance region, c. 1320. The initial words in both panels are written in gold and surrounded by hybrids, part human and part animal.

Lipton: Books of Jewish Beauty



Hebrew Script
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