Latest work on our Megillat Esther

As I have explained in earlier posts, about half of the images I am producing for our Megillat Esther are derived from art and objects that were either produced during the Achaemenid empire, or that could have been found within the borders of that empire. Why this focus on the Achaemenid empire? Xerxes I was one of the Achaemenid emperors, and he is commonly associated with Achashverosh, the king in the Book of Esther! Thus, it is conceivable that Xerxes may have used some of the gold and silver objects I have illustrated for our manuscript, objects that we might imagine Achashverosh used during the party he threw at the beginning of the Esther story.

So, our megillah might stand as an art history lesson, as well!

The image below comes from a bas relief that was a rather long chariot ride from Susa (Shushan), where Achashverosh held court. It is part of the gate of Nimrud (near Erbil in modern Iraq), produced by the Assyrian emperor Ashurnasirpal, about 350 years before Xerxes. It shows women mourning after one of Ashurnasipal’s conquests. I chose it to represent the Jews of Achashverosh’s kingdom, after they learn of Haman’s plot to exterminate them.

The slideshow below shows the progression of the image as I painted it.

Megillat Esther, Islamic inspired designs, 2

My last post about the Megillat Esther that Josh and I are producing was back in December.

Here’s a slideshow to give you an update of our work as it has proceeded.

Megillat Esther, illuminated gold cup

Work on the illuminated Megillat Esther continues.

I recently completed the 11th illumination, an image of an Achaemenid gold cup, probably dating from the time of Xerxes, the ruler who is often thought to be the Achashverosh of the Esther story. Thus, this cup may have actually been used in the revelry that opens the story!

Here’s a short slide show of the stages in producing this image. We see
1. the sketch, with gold ground laid
2. raking light on the gold ground as I prepare to burnish it to a glossy finish
3. close-up, showing the difference between the burnished snakes (uroboros) and the forehead
4. first layer of gold, unburnished
5. illumination completed, fully burnished
6. crystal background completed

The image is 3” x 2”.