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Poster advertising Jewish Book Month based on a print by Arthur Szyk

Object | Accession Number: 2003.341.1

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    Poster advertising Jewish Book Month based on a print by Arthur Szyk


    Brief Narrative
    Colorful poster of a book lover among his books owned by Philip Goodman. The poster was issued to promote Jewish Book Month, November 14 - December 14, 1979, sponsored by the Jewish Book Council. It is a reprint of the Arthur Szyk poster used for the campaign from 1946-1951. Szyk was a renowned master of the art of book illumination, and the poster design suggests an illuminated manuscript. It has a quote by Judah Ibn Tibbon [Yehudah ibn Tibon], a medieval Jewish translator of Maimonides from Arabic into Hebrew. A version of the drawing was published in Coronet Magazine, a general interest monthly, in September 1945. Goodman saw it and with 2 other Council members visited Szyk in 1946 and asked if he would make changes and permit them to use it as an announcement. Szyk agreed and made the changes as they watched over his shoulder. The poster of this new drawing was the most popular one ever used to publicize the event. Szyk, a Jewish emigre artist, originally from Łódź, Poland, came to the US in 1940. Since the September 1939 German invasion of Poland, his work had focused on anti-Nazi political cartoons. Szyk became a leading anti-Fascist editorial caricaturist in the US, creating works that brought attention to the mass murder of Europe’s Jews by Nazi Germany.
    Artwork Title
    Jewish Book Month November 14 - December 14, 1979
    commemoration:  1979 November 14-1979 December 14
    publication: New York (N.Y.)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Philip Goodman
    front, top, black ink : BOOKS: OUR HERITAGE
    front, center, black ink : BOOKS shall be / thy companions; book / cases and shelves, / they pleasure - nooks / and gardens. / JUDAH IBN TIBBON / Hebrew text / Yiddish text
    front, below image, black ink : Illustration reproduced from 1951 Jewish Book Month poster. / ARTHUR SZYK
    front, bottom, black ink : JEWISH BOOK MONTH / NOVEMBER 14 -- DECEMBER 14, 1979 / JWB JEWISH BOOK COUNCIL / 15 EAST 26 STREET · NEW YORK, N.Y. 10010
    Artist: Arthur Szyk
    Subject: Arthur Szyk
    Issuer: National Jewish Welfare Board, Jewish Book Council
    Arthur Szyk (1894-1951) was born to Jewish parents, Solomon and Eugenia Szyk in Łódź, Poland, which at the time was part of the Russian Empire. He had his first public art exhibition at age 15, and then went to Paris, France, for formal art training at the Academie Julian. He visited Palestine in 1914 with a group of Polish-Jewish artists and studied Muslim art. Upon his return, he was conscripted into the Russian Army and served in World War I. He married Julia Liekerman in 1916, and they had a son, George, in 1917. In 1918, Poland regained independence, but continued to fight a series of regional wars to secure its boundaries. Between 1919 and 1920, during Poland's war against the Soviet Bolsheviks, Syzk served as a cavalry officer and artistic director of the Department of Propaganda for the Polish Army in Łódź. In 1921, he and his family moved to Paris where his daughter, Alexandra was born the following year.

    Szyk was well known for his illuminations and book illustrations, in a style reminiscent of Persian miniatures. He worked on several significant projects in France, including illustrating the Statute of Kalisz, the Haggadah, and a series of watercolors on the American Revolutionary War. The themes of his most admired works, democracy and Judaism, were already well established, earning him both fame and significant commissions. In 1934, Szyk traveled to the United States for exhibitions of his work and to receive the George Washington Bicentennial Medal, awarded by the US Congress. He resided in England from 1937-1940 to supervise the publication of the Haggadah. In 1939, following Germany's invasion of Poland, he focused on producing anti-Nazi editorial cartoons published in many Western newspapers and magazines. During the German occupation of Poland, his 70 year old mother, Eugenia, and her Polish companion were forced to live in the Łódź ghetto. In 1943, they were transported to Majdanek concentration camp and killed.

    In late 1940, Szyk immigrated to the United States with his family. He became a leading anti-Fascist political caricaturist as well as an advocate for Jewish rescue. In addition to his widely published satirical art, Szyk devoted a great deal of time and energy to the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, and pushed for the establishment of an independent Jewish state in Palestine. Szyk received his US citizenship in 1948. In 1951, he was investigated by the United States House Un-American Activities Committee as a suspected Communist. His son, speaking on his behalf, declared his non-affiliation with any Communist organization. Later that year, on September 13, Szyk suffered a heart attack and died at age 57.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Poster with an illustration of an old man in a blue suit, sitting and reading an open book upon his lapdesk. At his feet sits a young boy in a blue suit, also engrossed in a book. On the right near the boy's book stands a crowned woman in medieval dress, with a dwarf at her side, possibly characters from the story he reads. In the upper right corner is a man in kippah and tallit, leaning over a book. Surrounding the figures and around the border are piles of neatly stacked books. The elaborate border design is in the style of an illuminated manuscript, with a large, scrollwork B, and dense floral and foliage patterns in dark red and green on a white background. In the center is a white scroll with a quote in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish. The poster title is in English at the bottom.
    overall: Height: 18.625 inches (47.308 cm) | Width: 10.500 inches (26.67 cm)
    overall : paper, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Szyk, Arthur, 1894-1951.

    Administrative Notes

    The poster was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003 by Philip Goodman.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:28:35
    This page:

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