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Illuminated Torah on Display at Metropolitan Museum of Art

 An illuminated Torah manuscript from the 15th Century will be on view until January 2014.
An illuminated Torah manuscript from the 15th Century will be on view until January 2014.
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Metropolitan Museum of Art

UPPER EAST SIDE — A rare, illuminated Torah from the 15th century is now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The manuscript is a copy of scholar Moses Maimonides' famous 12th century version, the Mishneh Torah, which included "the first systematic collection of Jewish law," Met officials said.

This Torah, which includes the final books of the Mishneh version, has "six large painted panels decorated in precious pigments and gold leaf, and 41 smaller illustrations with gold lettering adorning the opening words of each chapter," officials said in a statement.

Because of its plentiful use of gold, the manuscript is said to be "one of the finest extant illuminated copies of the Mishneh Torah."

The artist behind the Torah, “Master of the Barbo Missal,” worked on some of the top illuminated manuscripts of his era. This Torah, however, was his only manuscript for a Jewish patron, according to the Museum.

A second Mishneh Torah, on loan from the Jewish Theological Seminary, will also be on display.

That manuscript, also by Maimonides, is "more sober and restrained in its decoration," but the large-scale version is nevertheless "noteworthy for its precisely ruled and brightly colored drawings," the Met said.

The Torah, acquired jointly by the Metropolitan Museum and Jerusalem's Israel Museum in April 2013, will be on display until Jan. 5, 2014. It will be on view at both museums on a rotating basis, officials said.

For more information on this and other exhibitions, visit the Met online.