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Portrait by Josef Nassy of a Red Cross doctor in a suit done when both were prisoners

Object | Accession Number: 2006.491.1

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    Brief Narrative
    Portrait painted by Josef Nassy as a gift for Dr. Francis W. Roscoe when both men were prisoners of war in Laufen internment camp in Germany. Nassy painted two portraits of Dr. Roscoe, this one in civilian clothes, and 2006.491.2 in doctor's smock, in appreciation for his efforts in improving health conditions in the camps. Dr. Roscoe was a senior medical officer and inspector for the International Red Cross for Allied prison camps in Germany. In 1943, he condemned conditions at a Jewish concentration camp, Tittmoning, and was arrested on the scene by Heinrich Himmler and sent to Laufen. The Red Cross attempted to gain his release, but Roscoe remained imprisoned at Laufen for two and a half years, until the end of the war. Nassy, an expatriate black artist, was arrested in German occupied Belgium in 1942 for holding an American passport in 1942 and sent to Laufen internment camp. While imprisoned, Nassy was supplied with art materials by the International YMCA and he created more than 200 paintings and drawings. The United States Army liberated Laufen on May 5, 1945.
    Artwork Title
    Portrait of Francis W. Roscoe
    creation:  1944
    creation: Ilag VII (Concentration camp); Laufen (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Morris and Nancy Baker
    front, bottom right corner : ILAG V II / LAUFEN OBB. / NASSY 44
    Subject: Francis W. Roscoe
    Artist: Josef Nassy
    Subject: Josef Nassy
    Dr. Francis W. Roscoe attended the University of Vienna Medical School. He was the President of the International Red Cross and the American Medical Association in Vienna, Austria. In 1944, the Germans took Dr. Roscoe on a tour of several prison camps. He immediately condemned them as crimes against humanity. For speaking out, he was arrested by Heinrich Himmler and taken to the Tittmoning subcamp of Laufen internment camp. Dr. Roscoe was named the chief surgeon of all Allied prisoner of war camps by the International Red Cross while he was a prisoner of war. While imprisoned, Josef Nassy painted two portraits of Dr. Roscoe and gave them to the physician in appreciation for his work to improve camp conditions. Dr. Roscoe received many awards and accolades for his efforts during the war, including the Order of the British Empire.
    Josef Nassy was born in 1904 in Paramaribo, Suriname (the Dutch Guiana.) He was the seventh of nine children. His father Adolf was a prosperous businessman and member of Parliament. He was a descendant of Jews who fled Spain during the Inquisition, and spoke Yiddish, but was not religious. Josef was also of African descent. In 1919, Josef joined his father, in New York. He had taken art classes since a child, and now attended the Pratt Institute. He received a degree in industrial electrical engineering and worked in London and Paris installing movie theatre sound systems. In 1938, he attended the Academie des Beaux Arts in Brussels, Belgium, to study painting. Nassy was earning a living as a portrait artist when World War II began. In May 1940, Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Belgium. Josef was arrested in April 1942 as an enemy national, as he had an American passport. Nassy was held in Beverloo transit camp in Leopoldsburg, Belgium, before being transferred to Laufen internment camp and its subcamp Tittmoning. While imprisoned, Nassy was supplied with art materials by the International YMCA. He created more than 200 paintings and drawings chronicling the people and the appearance of the camp, with works featuring the barbed wire, watch towers, and prison bars. The United States Army liberated Laufen internment camp on May 5, 1945. Nassy passed away in 1976.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Rectangular oil painting featuring the portrait of a middle-aged white man with short, black, and gray hair, parted down the middle, with rimless glasses with gold wire temples. The body is angled slightly to the left and is looking at the observer; the right side is in shadow. The face is relaxed while the left corner of the mouth holds a pipe emanating faint wisps of smoke. The subject has drooping shoulders and wears a white turtleneck and light brown jacket with the collar turned up slightly. The dark gold frame is ornate and flecked with pink, red, and black paint. The innermost frame is white with scroll molding; the middle frame is dark gold with carved molding; the outermost frame is dark gold with filigree molding.
    overall: Height: 30.250 inches (76.835 cm) | Width: 26.000 inches (66.04 cm) | Depth: 4.250 inches (10.795 cm)
    pictorial area: Height: 19.000 inches (48.26 cm) | Width: 15.000 inches (38.1 cm)
    overall : oil paint, canvas, wood

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    Restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The painting was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2006 by Morris and Nancy Baker.
    Record last modified:
    2022-08-15 15:24:58
    This page:

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