EH 48 A 24



Shema ha”kol Yehudah.

שמע ה"קול יהודה

Portfolio of the Dutch master scribe Yehudah Machabeu. Probably Amsterdam, second half 17th century.

Yehudah Machabeu, also known as Louis Nunes Dovale, was a member of the Sephardic community of Amsterdam. Between 1646 and 1654 he lived in Brazil. When the Dutch were expelled by the Portuguese, he moved to France and settled in La Rochelle. There he lived for some three years before returning to Amsterdam.

This caerte, as it was called, contains nineteen leaves of calligraphy, each in a different hand. Not only could such a collection of sheets serve as a proof of one’s penmanship, it would enable one’s clients to choose from those sheets the handwriting they wanted for their document. Scribes would show as many scripts as they could. As we can see from the ease and grace of the handwriting, Yehudah Machabeu was an outstanding calligrapher, using all kinds of scripts, with names as Letra Redondilla, Letra Grifa and Letra Ynglesa.

Dr. E.G.L. Schrijver once revealed that Machabeu made some money on the side as a master forger during the Eighty Years’ War, fabricating Spanish documents for Dutch merchants who did not feel impelled to respect the Spanish embargo.

Portuguese, with some Hebrew and mirror-writing / Paper / 33,0 x 21,1 cm. / [24] ff. (first and last 2 ff. are blank) / Calligraphic Iberian writing, beautifully drawn frame of curls on each page.

Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.