Arthur Szyk

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Arthur Szyk
Studio portrait of Arthur Szyk (1930s). Photo credit Louvre Studio, Paris.
Born Artur Szyk
(1894-06-16)16 June 1894
Łódź, Poland
Died 13 September 1951(1951-09-13) (aged 57)
New Canaan, Connecticut
Resting place New Montefiore Cemetery, Farmingdale, New York
Nationality Polish-Jewish
Education Académie Julian, Paris; Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts, Kraków
Known for Drawing, caricature,
book illustration,
illuminated manuscript, watercolor painting
Notable work Statute of Kalisz (1932); Washington and his Times (1932); Twenty Pictures from the Glorious Days of the Polish-American Fraternity (1939); The Haggadah (1940); The New Order (1941); Andersen's Fairy Tales (1945); Ink & Blood: A Book of Drawings (1946); Pathways Through the Bible (1946); Visual History of Nations (1945-1949)
Awards Ordre des Palmes Académiques (France), 1923; Gold Cross of Merit (Poland), 1931; George Washington Bicentennial Medal (United States), 1932

Arthur Szyk (Polish: [ˈartur ʃɪk], June 16, 1894 – September 13, 1951) was an artist who worked primarily as a book illustrator and political artist throughout his decades-long career. Arthur Szyk was born into a prosperous middle-class Jewish family in Łódź,[1] in the part of Poland which was under Russian rule in the 19th century. An acculturated Polish Jew, Szyk always proudly regarded himself both as a Pole and a Jew.[2] From 1921, he lived and created his works mainly in France and Poland, and in 1937 he moved to the United Kingdom. In 1940, he settled permanently in the United States, where he was granted American citizenship in 1948.

Arthur Szyk became a renowned artist and book illustrator as early as the interwar period. His works were exhibited and published not only in Poland, but also in France, the United Kingdom, Israel and the United States. However, he gained broad popularity in the United States primarily through his political caricatures, in which, after the outbreak of World War II, he savaged the policies and personalities of the leaders of the Axis powers. After the war, he also devoted himself to political issues, especially the support of the creation of the state of Israel.

Szyk's work is characterized in its material content by social and political commitment, and in its formal aspect by its rejection of modernism and embrace of the traditions of medieval and renaissance painting, especially illuminated manuscripts from those periods. Unlike most caricaturists, Szyk always showed great attention to the colouristic effects and details in his works.

Today, Szyk is a well-known and often exhibited artist only in his last home country, the United States. In Europe, since the late 1990s exhibitions of his art has been mounted in the Polish cities of Kraków, Warsaw and Łódź, as well as in Berlin, Germany. The recent publication of a Polish-language edition Szyk's biography and public broadcasts of the documentary film Arthur Szyk – Illuminator (Marta TV & Film, Telewizja Polska (Łódź), 2005) also have improved Szyk's stature in his mother country, Poland.

Background and youth

Arthur Szyk,[3] the son of Solomon Szyk and his wife Eugenia, was born in Łódź, in Russian-occupied Poland, on June 16, 1894. Solomon Szyk was a textile factory director, a quiet occupation until June 1905, when, during the so-called Łódź insurrection, one of his workers threw acid in his face, permanently blinding him.

Little Arthur showed artistic talent as a child; when he was six years old, he reportedly drew sketches of the Boxer Rebellion in China.[4] Even though his family was culturally assimilated and did not practice Orthodox Judaism, Arthur also liked drawing biblical scenes from the Hebrew Bible. These interests and talents prompted his father, upon the advice of Szyk's teachers, to send Szyk to Paris to study at Académie Julian, a studio school popular among French and foreign students. In Paris, Szyk was exposed to all modern trends in art; however, he decided to follow his own way, which hewed closely to tradition. He was especially attracted by the medieval art of illuminating manuscripts, which greatly influenced his later works. When studying in Paris, Szyk remained closely involved with the social and civic life of Łódź. During the years 1912-1914 the teenage artist produced numerous drawings and caricatures on contemporary political themes that were published in the Łódź satirical magazine Śmiech ("Laughter").

After four years spent in France, Szyk returned to Polish lands in 1913 and continued his studies in Teodor Axentowicz's class at Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, which was under Austrian rule at that time. He not only attended lectures and classes, but he also actively participated in Kraków's cultural life. He did not forget about his home city Łódź either – he designed the stage sets and costumes for the Łódź-based Bi Ba Bo cabaret. The political and national engagement of the artist also deepened during that time – Szyk regarded himself as a Polish patriot but he was also proud of being Jewish and he often opposed antisemitism in his works. At the beginning of 1914, Szyk in a group with other Polish-Jewish artists and writers set off on a journey to Palestine, which was organized by the Jewish Cultural Society Hazamir (Hebrew: nightingale). There he could observe the efforts of Jewish settlers who were working for the benefit of the future Jewish state.[5]

The visit was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. Szyk, who was a Russian subject, had to leave Palestine, which was part of the Ottoman Empire at that time, and go back to his home country in August 1914. He was conscripted into the Russian army and fought at the battle of Łódź in November/December 1914, but at the beginning of 1915 he managed to escape from the army and spent the rest of the war in his home city. He also used the time spent in the Russian army to draw Russian soldiers and published these drawings as postcards in the same year (1915).[6] On September 14, 1916, Arthur Szyk married Julia Likerman. Their son George was born in the following year, and their daughter Alexandra in 1922.

Between the wars

In reborn Poland

In this image from the 1919 book Rewolucja w Niemczech (Revolution in Germany), a Valkyrie-like figure stands on a globe stamped with the Iron Cross (Eisernes Kreuz).

After Poland had regained independence in 1918, Szyk fully developed his artistic activity, combining it with political engagement. In 1919, influenced by the events of the German Revolution of 1918–19, he published, together with poet Julian Tuwim, the first political book which was illustrated by him: Rewolucja w Niemczech (Revolution in Germany), which was a satire on the Germans, who need the Kaiser's and the military's consent even to start a revolution.[7] In the same year, Szyk had to take part in warfare again – during the Polish–Soviet War (1919–1920), in which he served as a Polish cavalry officer, but first of all as the artistic director of the propaganda department of the Polish army in Łódź.[8][9]

Szyk in France

In 1921 Arthur Szyk and his family moved to Paris where they stayed until 1937. The stay in Paris is marked by a breakthrough in the formal aspect of Szyk's works. While the illustrations of the previous books on which Szyk had worked previously were ordinary drawings in pen and ink (Szyk had illustrated six books before 1925, including three published in the Yiddish language), the illustrations of the books which were published in Paris are already in full colour, with a fully developed style so characteristic of the artist's future works. The first book which was illustrated in this way was the Book of Esther (Le livre d'Esther, 1925), followed by Gustave Flaubert's dialogue The Temptation of Saint Anthony (La tentation de Saint Antoine, 1926), Pierre Benoît's novel Jacob's Well (Le puits e Jacob, 1927) and other books. Those illustrations, which are characterized by a rich diversity of colours and detailed presentation, deliberately referred to the medieval and renaissance traditions of illumination of manuscripts, often with interspersed contemporary elements, such as Szyk's self-portrait, who showed himself as one of the characters in the book. The only exception is illustrations to the two volume collection of anecdotes about Jews Le juif qui rit (1926/27), in which the artist returned to simple black and white graphics (paradoxically, the book, one of the best known of his works, met with criticism as repeating antisemitic stereotypes). The artist's reputation was also enhanced by exhibitions which were organized by Galeries Auguste Decour (the art gallery first exhibited Szyk's works in 1922). Szyk’s drawings were bought for example by the then Minister of Education and Fine Arts Anatole de Monzie and the New York businessman Harry Glemby.[10]

After Szyk had moved to Paris, he not only lived in France but also traveled a lot (mainly for artistic reasons). In 1922, he spent seven weeks in Morocco, then a protectorate of France, where he drew the portrait of the pasha of Marrakech – as a goodwill ambassador he received the Ordre des Palmes Académiques from the French government for this work. In 1931 he was invited to the seat of the League of Nations in Geneva where he was asked to illustrate the statute of the League. The artist made some of the pages of the statute but did not complete that work as a result of his disappointment with the policies of the organization in the 1930s.[11]

Statute of Kalisz. Washington and his Times

During his stay in France, Szyk did not break contact with Poland. He often visited his home country, illustrated books, and exhibited his works there. During the second half of the 1920s, he mainly illustrated the Statute of Kalisz, a charter of liberties which were granted to the Jews by Boleslaw the Pious, the Duke of Kalisz, in 1264. In the years 1926-1928, he created a rich graphic setting of the 45 page long Statute, showing the contribution of the Jews to Polish society, including their participation in Poland's pro-independence struggle, for example during the January Uprising of 1863 or in the Polish Legions in World War I commanded by Józef Piłsudski, to whom Szyk also dedicated his work. The Statute of Kalisz was published in book form in Munich in 1932, but it gained popularity even earlier. Postcards with reproductions of Szyk's illustrations were published in Kraków around 1927, it was shown at exhibitions in Warsaw, Łódź and Kalisz in 1929, and a "Traveling Exhibition of Artur Szyk's Works" was held in 1932/33, displaying the Statute at exhibitions in 14 Polish towns and cities. In recognition for his work, Arthur Szyk was decorated with the Gold Cross of Merit by the Polish government.[12][13]

Another great historical series created by Szyk was Washington and his Times, which he began in Paris in 1930. The series, which included 38 watercolours, depicted the events of the American Revolutionary War and was a tribute to the first president of the United States and the American nation in general. The series was presented at an exhibition at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. in 1934. It brought another decoration to Szyk – this time the George Washington Bicentennial Medal from the American government.[14][15]

The Haggadah. Moving to London. New York 1939 World's Fair

Arthur Szyk (1894-1951). Hitler as Pharaoh, c. 1933. This sketch depicts the newly appointed Chancellor of Germany Adolf Hitler dressed as an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, a clear reference to the antagonist in the biblical story of the Exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt.

Szyk's drawings and paintings became even more politically engaged when Hitler took power in Germany in 1933. Szyk started drawing Führer's caricatures as early as 1933; probably, the first work of the artist directed against the leader of the Third Reich was a drawing of Hitler, made in pencil, in which he was shown as a new pharaoh.[16] These drawings anticipated another great series of Szyk's drawings – Haggadah, which is considered to be his magnum opus. The Haggadah is a very important and popular story in Jewish culture and religion about the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt, which is read every year during the Passover Seder.[17] Szyk illustrated it in 48 drawings in the years 1932-1938, and the development of the political situation in Germany at that time made him introduce some contemporary elements to it. These referred to, in particular, the parable of the four sons, in which the "wicked son" was portrayed as a man wearing German clothes, with a Hitler-like moustache. The expression of the series was even stronger in its original version: the drawings showed snakes with swastikas, there were also heads of Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels.

In 1937, Arthur Szyk went to London to supervise the publication of Haggadah. However, the artist had to agree to many compromises during that work which lasted three years, including painting over of all swastikas. It is not clear whether he did it as a result of the pressure by his publisher or the British politicians who pursued the policy of appeasement in relation to Germany. Finally, Haggadah was published in London in 1940; the artist dedicated it to King George VI. The work was widely acclaimed by critics; according to The Times, it was "worthy to be placed among the most beautiful of books that the hand of man has ever produced".[18][19]

The last big presentation of Szyk's works before the outbreak of the war was the presentation of his paintings at the 1939 New York World's Fair, which was opened in April 1939. Szyk's twenty paintings, which were exhibited in the Polish Pavilion, depicted the contribution of the Poles to the history of the United States, and different connections between both countries.[20]

Szyk in World War II

Reaction to the outbreak of the war

The German 'Authority' in Poland (1939), London
The New Order (dust jacket). New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1941

The outbreak of World War II found Szyk in Britain where he not only supervised the publication of Haggadah but also kept on with creating and exhibiting his works. The artist reacted to the war immediately. In January 1940, the exhibition of his 72 caricatures entitled War and "Kultur" in Poland was opened at the Fine Art Society in London. The exhibition was appraised by critics very positively. As the reviewer of The Times wrote:

There are three leading motives in the exhibition: the brutality of the Germans – and the more primitive savagery of the Russians, the heroism of the Poles, and the suffering of the Jews. The cumulative effect of the exhibition is immensely powerful because nothing in it appears to be a hasty judgment, but part of the unrelenting pursuit of an evil so firmly grasped that it can be dwelt upon with artistic satisfaction.[21]

Szyk drew more and more caricatures directed at the Axis powers and their leaders, his popularity was also growing. In 1940, the American publisher G.P. Putnam's Sons offered the artist to publish a collection of his drawings. Szyk agreed, and the result was the album The New Order, published in 1941, after the artist had arrived in America, but before the United States joined the war. The feature which distinguished Szyk from other caricaturists who were active during World War II was that he concentrated on the presentation of the enemy in his works and seldom depicted the leaders or soldiers of the Allies. This was a characteristic feature of Szyk's work till the end of the war.[22]

Moving to the United States. War caricatures

Arthur Szyk, 1942, Anti-Christ, watercolor and gouache on paper. Szyk's portrayal of Adolf Hitler as the embodiment of evil: his eyes reflect human skulls, his black hair the Latin words "Vae Victis" [woe to the vanquished (ones)].
Arthur Szyk illustrated numerous covers for Collier's magazine during World War II.

At the beginning of July 1940, Arthur Szyk left Britain to North America, with the support of the British government and the Polish government-in-exile, on assignment to popularize the struggle of the British and Polish nations with Nazism in the New World. His first destination on the North American continent was Canada, where he was welcomed enthusiastically by the media: they wrote about his engagement in the fight with Nazi Germany, and the Halifax-based Morning Herald even reported about the alleged bounty Hitler had put on Szyk.[23] In December 1940, Szyk and his wife and daughter went to New York City where he lived till 1945. His son, George, had enlisted in the Free French Forces commanded by General Charles de Gaulle.[24]

Soon after his arrival in the U.S., Szyk was inspired by Roosevelt's 1941 "Four Freedoms" State of the Union speech to illustrate the Four Freedoms, preceding Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms by two years; these were used as poster stamps during the war, and later illustrated a Four Freedoms Award which was presented to Harry Truman, George Marshall and Herbert H. Lehman. Szyk became an immensely popular artist in his new home country during the Second World War, especially after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into the war. His caricatures of the leaders of the Axis powers (Hitler, Mussolini, Hirohito) and drawings appeared practically everywhere: in newspapers, magazines (including Time (cover caricature of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in December 1941), Esquire, and Collier's), on posters, postcards and stamps, in secular, religious and military publications, on public and military buildings. He also produced advertisements for Coca Cola and U.S. Steel, and exhibited in the galleries of M. Knodler & Co., Andre Seligmann, Inc., Messrs. Wildenstein & Co., the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the Brooklyn Museum, the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, and the White House. More than 25 exhibitions were staged altogether in the United States during the war years. At the end of the war, in 1945, his drawing Two down and One to go was used in a propaganda film calling American soldiers to the final assault on Japan. According to the Esquire magazine, the posters with Szyk's drawings enjoyed even bigger popularity with American soldiers than pin-up girls put on the walls of American military bases.[25] Szyk's works, however, were also praised by critics. Thomas Craven wrote on the dust jacket of The New Order as early as 1941 that Szyk:

…makes not only cartoons but beautifully composed pictures which suggest, in their curiously decorative quality, the inspired illuminations of the early religious manuscripts. His designs are as compact as a bomb, extraordinarily lucid in statement, firm and incisive in line, and deadly in their characterizations. (…) These are remarkable documents.[26]

Eleanor Roosevelt presented with an Arthur Szyk work in 1956. Szyk himself died 5 years earlier.

Szyk's drawings were very important for the American war propaganda. In recognition for his services in the fight against Nazism, Fascism, and the Japanese aggression, Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President F. D. Roosevelt, said of him: "This is a personal war of Szyk against Hitler, and I do not think that Mr. Szyk will lose this war!"[27] She also dubbed him a "one man army", which became Szyk's famous nickname. Szyk himself often called himself a "soldier in art". Other famous quotations by him are: "Art is not my aim, it is my means",[28] and "I am but a Jew praying in art." Szyk generally felt good in his adopted home country, saying:

At last, I have found the home I have always searched for. Here I can speak of what my soul feels. There is no other place on earth that gives one the freedom, liberty, and justice that America does.[29]

Criticism of the Allies in Szyk's works

Even though Szyk was a fierce opponent of Nazism throughout the war, this does not mean that he avoided themes in drawings which presented the Allies in a less favourable light. In relation to the United Kingdom, that was mainly criticism of the Middle East policy of the country, especially of imposing limits on Jewish emigration to Palestine. Despite the fact that the British government had provided for the creation of a Jewish state in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in May 1939, the House of Commons passed the so-called White Paper, which limited the number of Jewish immigrants to the Holy Land to 10,000 yearly, which had tragic consequences to the fate of the Jews in Hitler-occupied Europe.[30] Szyk also criticized the passivity of American-Jewish organizations towards the tragedy of their European fellows.[31] He supported the work of Hillel Kook, also known as Peter Bergson, member of the Zionist organization Irgun, who fought a campaign in American society whose aim was to draw attention to the fate of the European Jews. Szyk illustrated for example full-page advertisements of his groups which were published in The New York Times. The artist also perceived racial tensions in the United States and the fact that the black population did not have the same rights as the whites. In one of his drawings, there are two American soldiers – one black and one white – escorting German prisoners of war. When the white one asks the black: "And what would you do with Hitler?", the black one answers: "I would have made him a Negro and dropped him somewhere in the U.S.A."[32]

Szyk's attitude to his mother country, Poland, was very interesting and full of contradictions. Even though he regarded himself both as Jewish and Polish and showed the suffering of the Poles (not only those of Jewish descent) in the occupied Polish territories in his drawings, even though he benefited from financial support of the Polish government-in-exile (at least at the beginning of the war), he also presented that government in a negative light, especially at the end of World War II. In a well-known drawing of 1944, a group of debating Polish politicians are shown as opponents of Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, the "Bolshevik agent" Winston Churchill, and at the same time adherents of Father Charles Coughlin, known for his antisemitic views, as well as "(national) democracy"[33] and "(national) socialism." Around 1943, Szyk, a former participant in the Polish-Soviet war, also completely changed his opinions on the Soviet Union. His drawing from 1944 already depicts outright a soldier of the Moscow-supported People's Army of Poland next to a Red Army soldier, both liberating Poland.[34]

Whatever his political views, he took the time, in July 1942 to look after the family of the Polish diplomat and poet General Bolesław Wieniawa-Długoszowski when the latter committed suicide in New York. He invited his wife Bronisława Wieniawa-Długoszowska and daughter Zuzanna to stay with his family for six weeks in the country.

Book illustrations

Even though caricatures dominated Szyk's works during the war, he was still engaged in other areas of art. In 1940, the American publisher George Macy, who saw his illustrations to Haggadah at an exhibition in London, asked him to illustrate Rubaiyat, a collection of poems of the Iranian poet Omar Khayyám.[35] In 1943, the artist started work on illustrations for the Book of Job, published in 1946; he also illustrated collections of fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen (Andersen's Fairy Tales, 1945) and Charles Perrault (Mother Goose).[36]

After the war, last years of life

In 1945, Arthur Szyk and his family moved from New York City to New Canaan, Connecticut where he lived till the end of his life. The end of the war released him from the duty to fight Nazism through his caricatures; a large collection of drawings from that period was published in book form as Ink and Blood in 1946. The artist returned to book illustrations, working for example on The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer and, first of all, books telling Old Testament stories, such as Pathways through the Bible by Mortimer J. Cohen (1946), the The Book of Job (1946), The Book of Ruth (1947), The Ten Commandments (1947), The Story of Joseph and his Brothers (1949). Some of the books illustrated by Szyk were also published posthumously, including The Arabian Nights Entertainments (1954) and The Book of Esther (1974). He was also commissioned by Canadian entrepreneur and stamp connoisseur, Kasimir Bileski, to illustrate the United Nations Series of stamps.

Declaration of Independence (1950), New Canaan, CT

Artur Szyk was granted American citizenship on May 22, 1948, but he reportedly experienced the happiest day in his life eight days earlier: on May 14, the day of the announcement of the Israeli Declaration of Independence.[37] Arthur Szyk commemorated that event by creating the richly decorated illumination of the Hebrew text of the declaration. Two years later, on July 4, 1950, he also exhibited the richly illuminated text of the United States Declaration of Independence. The artist continued getting politically engaged in his country, criticizing the McCarthyism policy (the ubiquitous atmosphere of suspicion and searching for sympathizers of communism in American artistic and academic circles) and signs of racism. One of his well-known drawings from 1949 shows two armed members of Ku Klux Klan approaching a tied-up African American; the caption for the drawing saying "Do not forgive them, oh Lord, for they do know what they do." Owing to this criticism, Szyk was also interrogated by the House Un-American Activities Committee, which accused him of being a member of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee and six other suspicious organizations. Szyk himself, however, repudiated these accusations of alleged sympathy for communism in a written statement (source needed).

Arthur Szyk died of a heart attack in New Canaan on September 13, 1951.[38] He was eulogized by Rabbi Ben Zion Bokser, who said: "Arthur Szyk was a great artist. Endowed by God with a rare sensitivity to beauty and with a rare skill in giving it graphic representation, he used his talents to create a series of works of splendor and magnificence that will live forever in the history of art. But Arthur Szyk was more than a great artist. He was a great man, a champion of justice, a fearless warrior in the cause of every humanitarian endeavor. His art was his tool and he used it brilliantly. It was in his hands a weapon of struggle with which he fought for the causes close to his heart"; and by Judge Simon H. Rifkind, who said: "The Arthur Szyk whom the world knows, the Arthur Szyk of the wondrous color, and of the beautiful design, that Arthur Szyk whom the world mourns today—he is indeed not dead at all. How can he be when the Arthur Szyk who is known to mankind lives and is immortal and will remain immortal as long as the love of truth and beauty prevails among mankind?"[39]


Exhibition of Szyk's works at the Holocaust Museum Houston

The immense popularity Szyk enjoyed in the United States in his lifetime gradually flagged after his death. From the 1960s to the end of the 1980s, the artist's works were seldom exhibited in American museums. This changed in 1991 when The Arthur Szyk Society was set up in Orange County, California. The founder of the Society was George Gooche, who discovered Szyk's unknown works and staged the exhibition "Arthur Szyk – Illuminator" in Los Angeles. In 1997, the seat of the Society was transferred to Burlingame, California, and a new Board of Trustees was elected, headed by rabbi, curator and antiquarian Irvin Ungar. The Society's work resulted in staging many exhibitions of Szyk's works in American cities in the 1990s, the Society also holds lectures and publishes books on the artist.

Szyk's recent U.S. exhibitions include: “Arthur Szyk and the Art of the Haggadah” at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco (February 13 to June 29, 2014), “Arthur Szyk: Miniature Paintings and Modern Illuminations” at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco (December 10, 2014 to March 27, 2011), "A One-Man Army: The Art of Arthur Szyk" at the Holocaust Museum Houston (October 20, 2008 – February 8, 2009); "The Art and Politics of Arthur Szyk" at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. (April 10 – October 14, 2002); "Arthur Szyk: Artist for Freedom" at the Library of Congress (December 9, 1999 – May 6, 2000); and "Justice Illuminated: The Art of Arthur Szyk" at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago (August 16, 1998 – February 28, 1999). "Justice Illuminated: The Art of Arthur Szyk" is also a traveling exhibition of The Arthur Szyk Society.[40] Recent major publications about the art of Arthur Szyk include a new edition of The Szyk Haggadah and its Companion Volume Freedom Illuminated: Understanding The Szyk Haggadah; and Justice Illuminated: The Art of Arthur Szyk, produced in conjunction with the 1998-99 Institute exhibition.

In Europe, Arthur Szyk practically sank into oblivion after World War II. This is true even for his mother country Poland, where Szyk's drawings were exhibited only once after the war. That was in 2005 when the traveling exhibition "Justice Illuminated: The Art of Arthur Szyk" was brought from The Arthur Szyk Society in the United States and presented at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, the Izrael Poznański Palace in Łódź and the Judaica Foundation - Center For Jewish Culture in Kraków. The biggest exhibition of Szyk's art on the European Continent after the war was staged at the German Historical Museum in Berlin from August 2008 to January 2009;.[41] Szyk's Haggadah was displayed in the Jewish Contemporary Museum of San Francisco in 2014.


  1. Ansell, Joseph P. Arthur Szyk: Artist, Jew, Pole. Oxford: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2004. p. 5
  2. Ansell, p. 7
  3. The artist's birth name was Artur Szyk, but in Western Europe and the United States he is commonly known as Arthur Szyk, which is also how he usually signed his works.
  4. Current Biography, New York, 1946, p. 588.
  5. Irvin Ungar : Arthur Szyk : Soldier in Art, in: Arthur Szyk : Drawing against National Socialism and Terror, German Historical Museum, Berlin, 2008, pp. 12-15.
  6. Arthur Szyk : Drawing against National Socialism and Terror, German Historical Museum, Berlin, 2008, pp. 74-75.
  7. Arthur Szyk : Drawing…, pp. 72-73.
  8. I. Ungar, op. cit., pp. 15-16.
  9. Arthur Szyk : Drawing…, pp. 76-77.
  10. I. Ungar, op. cit. , pp. 16-18.
  11. Arthur Szyk : Drawing…, pp. 90-91.
  12. I. Ungar, op. cit., pp. 18-19.
  13. The original paintings for the Statute are now in the Jewish Museum in New York City.
  14. I. Ungar, op. cit. , pp. 19-20.
  15. Washington and his Times was published in book form in Vienna in 1932. The originals of the watercolours were presented by the President of Poland Ignacy Mościcki to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935. They are now stored at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York.
  16. Arthur Szyk : Drawing…, pp. 100-101.
  17. Compare the complete Hebrew and English texts of the Hagaddah on website [1].
  18. The Szyk Haggadah
  19. I. Ungar, op. cit. pp. 19-23.
  20. Arthur Szyk : Drawing…, pp. 88-89.
  21. Polish War Satires : Miniatures by Mr Szyk, in: The Times, January 11, 1940.
  22. I. Ungar, op. cit., p. 23.
  23. The Morning Herald, July 13, 1940. The information about the alleged bounty was also repeated by American media, but it is not confirmed by reliable sources.
  24. I. Ungar, op. cit., pp. 23-25.
  25. The Answer, New York, September 1945, p. 14.
  26. Arthur Szyk, The New Order, New York, 1941.
  27. Arthur Szyk at the Jewish Virtual Library
  28. [2]
  29. Catalogue of the exhibition Arthur Szyk : Artist for Freedom in the Swann Gallery of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., December 8, 1999 – May 6, 2000.
  30. I. Ungar, op. cit., p. 26.
  31. Szyk's mother, Eugenia Szyk, and possibly her Polish-Christian companion, were also taken from the Łódź Ghetto in Poland. Arthur Szyk thought she went to the Majdanek concentration camp and died in 1943, but his mother was actually murdered at the Chełmno extermination camp in 1942.
  32. I. Ungar, op. cit., pp. 25-26.
  33. Szyk alludes to the National Democracy, a pre-war right-wing political movement in Poland, known for its nationalistic and antisemitic views.
  34. I. Ungar, op. cit., pp. 27-28.
  35. Arthur Szyk : Drawing…, pp. 64-65.
  36. Arthur Szyk : Drawing…, pp. 68-69.
  37. Compare the memoirs of Julia Szyk, the artist's wife, who recorded her husband's reaction to that event. Her memoirs are kept by The Arthur Szyk Archives in Burlingame, California.
  38. I. Ungar, op. cit., pp. 29-31.
  39. The Arthur Szyk Society – Eulogies and Tributes
  40. Compare the Society's website About the Arthur Szyk Society.
  41. Information on the exhibition on the website of the German Historical Museum [3]


  • Joseph Ansell, Artur Szyk : Artist, Jew, Pole, Oxford, Portland, Or. : Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2004, ISBN 1-874774-94-3.
  • Irvin Ungar, Justice Illuminated : the Art of Arthur Szyk, Chicago : Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, 1998.
  • Arthur Szyk : Drawing against National Socialism and Terror, Berlin : Deutsches Historisches Museum, 2008, ISBN 978-3-86102-151-3.
  • Samuel Loeb Shneiderman, Arthur Szyk, Tel-Aviv : I. L. Peretz Publishing House, 1980 (in Hebrew).

External links