Champion for US & Israel

1947 - 1951

1947

Arthur Szyk, 1948. John Bull’s Arab Puppet Show. New Canaan

UN votes to end the British Mandate in Palestine.

Resolution 181/11 calls for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. The resolution is rejected by the Arabs of Palestine. In this sketch John Bull (the avatar of Great Britain) manipulates several puppets (representing the Arab states), ironically questioning the relationship between the Arabs and Great Britain. As a Zionist, Szyk was supportive of a separate Jewish state. The image was captioned  “According to my script, the guy was supposed to die, but he has no sense of humor.”


1948

Arthur Szyk, 1948. Proclamation of Independence of Israel. New Canaan

Szyk illuminates the Proclamation of the Establishment of the State of Israel.

David Ben-Gurion accepts the partition of Palestine and declares the State of Israel, setting up a provisional government.


1948

Arthur Szyk, 1948. To the Glorious Memory of Mickey Marcus. New Canaan

US Colonel David ‘Mickey” Marcus is killed by friendly fire while assisting Israel during the Arab-Israeli War.

This image shows an Israeli soldier chasing after an Arab man who has a bag labeled “For Loot” slung over his shoulder and has dropped a machine gun labeled “British”. An inscription below the drawing reads “The Arab: ‘There Must Be Some Misunderstanding!'” while a dedication above the piece states “To the Glorious Memory of the Colonel Mickey Marcus, Who Was So Instrumental in This ‘Misunderstanding’ A.S.”

Marcus was a Brooklyn-born colonel in the U.S. Army who organized the defense of the new state of Israel in the face of Arab attacks in 1948.

 


1948

Arthur Szyk, 1948. UN Sanctions. New Canaan

The United Nations Council Resolution 62 calls for the withdrawal and reduction of armed forces in Palestine.

A young Israeli soldier sits at his grandfather’s knees and asks: “Tell me, Grandfather, what do they call sanctions?…” A book is open on the grandfather’s lap containing a fragment of the Lord’s Prayer “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me.” The grandfather replies: “That my child is the way we lived among them for 2000 years.” Scattered at their feet are two loose broadsides reading: U.N. Sanctions in Case Israel Refuses to Succumb and Bunche of Intrigues.

Here Szyk draws on the faith and history of the Jews. He draws a parallel between the situation faced by Moses, and the fortitude required by the new Jewish state.

 

 


1948

 

 

Unknown Photographer, date unknown. Julia, Alexandra and Arthur Szyk. New Canaan

Arthur Szyk becomes a US citizen.

On May 22, 1948, Arthur Szyk became a naturalized citizen of the United States.


1949

 

 

 

Arthur Szyk, 1949 Four Freedoms Prayer. New Canaan

Szyk Illuminates The Four Freedoms Prayer. 

On the right of the work Szyk reworks the traditional scene of the adoration of the Magi to represent American ideals and values described in the Prayer.  On the left are the words of the Four Freedoms Prayer, based on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech to Congress on January 6, 1941. Around the borders of the illumination are the Four Freedoms: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom from want, and freedom from fear – all ideals that Szyk valued highly.

 


1949

 

 

 

 

Arthur Szyk, 1949 Do Not Forgive Them O Lord, for They Know What They Do. New Canaan

Arthur Szyk continues his struggle against intolerance and racism.

Do not Forgive Them O Lord, for They do Know What They do was published in the Sunday Compass. Szyk produced this work in response to the plight of African-American veterans of WWII, who had fought for their country, yet returned home to the same racism and unjust treatment. The cartoon contained the text “Each Negro lynching is a national disaster and is a stab in the back to our government and its desperate struggle for democracy”. Even after WWII, Szyk thus continued his work for civil rights and against injustice.

 


1950

 

 

 

Arthur Szyk, 1950 Szyk and Haman, The Book of Esther. New Canaan

Arthur Szyk works on illustrations for a new version of  The Book of Esther.

Szyk created new illustrations for The Book of Esther in response to his concerns that the lessons of WWII would be forgotten; it is a visual argument that the ‘war against evil’ should continue. He emblazons the wicked character Haman with swastikas, using the book as a commentary on the status of Jews in contemporary society. In this final image from the book, Szyk depicts himself as bearing witness to the demise of the enemy. The Book of Esther was not published until 1974.

 


1950

 

 

Arthur Szyk, 1950 Declaration of Independence. New Canaan

Szyk illuminates the Declaration of Independence.

This work features the complete printed text of The Declaration above the names of the signers. Each colony is represented by its seal. The border is composed of flags of all the states as well as Panama, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. A large vignette of George Washington and smaller vignettes of Revolutionary War soldiers highlight the illumination.

 


1951

 

 

 

 

House of Un-American Activites, 1951 Brochure showing Szyk’s name.

Szyk is publicly named by the House of Un-American Activities Committee.

The New York Herald Tribune reports Szyk’s name among many scientists, artists, writers, and academics as being affiliated with peace organizations that may have communist connections. Szyk was visited by Judge Simon Rifkind at his home and asked to detail his connections with the Soviet Union. Szyk declared his innocence, arguing his only support for the USSR had been as one of the Allies during WWII. He denied any other Communist connection, saying categorically that he “had devoted his lifetime work to the … ideals of freedom” and that he had “never had any sympathy for communism”.

 

 


1951

 

 

 

 

Photographer unknown, c. 1946 Szyk on the Porch at New Canaan. New Canaan

On September 13, 1951 Arthur Szyk passed away.

His death certificate lists “heart attack” as the probable cause of death. This was his second heart attack in four months, and the third in two years. He kept up his grueling work schedule almost until the day of his death. Obituary notices were published internationally noting his contributions to miniature painting, illumination, book illustration and his political cartoons and caricatures. He was 57 years of age.

His New York Times obituary can be read here.

 

Explore Arthur Szyk's life and times through his art