Passover Hadaggah with Ladino translation, Venice, 1609


In 1609 the printer Israel ha-Zifroni of Guastalla designed an edition of the Passover Haggadah with completely new illustrations. The Haggadah was printed for him in the printing house of Giovanni da Gara in Venice. The Haggadah appeared simultaneously with translations in Judeo-Italian, Judeo-Spanish and Judeo-German, the languages of the Jewish communities living in Venice at the time. The Venice Haggadah of 1609 is one of the most beautiful early printed Haggadot. The compositional conception of this edition differs from its precursors in the monumental layout of the page. The decorated frame consists of two columns crowned by a pediment, and a text illustration at the bottom of the page.

The decoration also included a series of small panels on an introductory page illustrating the various stages in the seder, the Passover celebration, and a page similarly grouped in panels, of the ten plagues. These features were henceforth to become common in illustrated Haggadot.

In 1629 a further edition with a similar format to that of ha-Zifroni was published in Venice by the Bragadini press. This continued to be reproduced, without any basic changes but with increasingly worn types and indistinct blocks, until late in the 18th century. The illustrations continued to be copied in Haggadot printed in the Mediterranean area, especially in Leghorn, until recently.