WWI and its Aftermath

1915 - 1920

1916

Arthur Szyk, 1926. Portrait of Julia Szyk. Paris

Arthur Szyk marries Julia Likierman.

With its enigmatic air and straightforward composition, this 1926 portrait of Szyk’s wife, Julia, is reminiscent of da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, a nod to Szyk’s knowledge of and love for art history. The richly patterned frame, and the treatment of furnishings and wall coverings is at odds with Julia’s black austere dress, and serves to make her the focus of the work. She wears a Star of David around her neck indicating her Jewish faith. Only the hint of a patterned chemise underneath her outer garments, and her rich red collar, suggest intimacy and her personality: there was more to her than immediately apparent.


1917

Arthur Szyk, 1936. Illuminated Balfour Declaration. Lódź

The Balfour Declaration supports a national home for the Jewish people.

After the British Army conquers Palestine, the Balfour Declaration supports the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. Arthur Szyk produced an illuminated version of the Declaration in 1936, in the face of the ongoing persecution of Jewish people living in Nazi Germany, and anti-Jewish riots in Palestine.


1918

Arthur Szyk, 1927. Cover of The Statute of Kalisz showing Polish Eagle with Crown. Paris

World War I ends.

Poland declares independence from Russia, symbolized by the crown of independence on the head of Polish eagle.


1919

Arthur Szyk, 1919. Mighty Fortress is a German God. Lódź

Szyk publishes Rewolucja w Niemczech (Revolution in Germany) with Polish poet Julian Tuwim.

Rewolucja w Niemczech is Szyk’s first illustrated political book. It reflects the perceived negative impact that German culture had on Polish society and culture at the time.

In this image from the Book, a Valkyrie-like figure stands on a globe stamped with the Iron Cross (Eisernes Kreuz). Szyk characterizes the German people as being unable to think for themselves, and blindly following military or imperial leadership.


1919 - 1921

Arthur Szyk, c. 1919. Do Broni Wszyscy na Front (To Arms Everyone on the Front). Lódź

Polish-Soviet war begins.

Arthur Szyk serves as a cavalry officer in the Polish army against Soviet Bolshevik forces. He becomes Artistic Director of the Propaganda Department.

A soldier raises his weapon and shouts “To arms everyone on the front!” in Szyk’s economically rendered war propaganda poster.

 

Explore Arthur Szyk's life and times through his art