“In his dexterity Szyk recalls a bygone age of monastic scribes slaving over parchment pages. [His] illustrations are more intricate than Swiss watch works and sublimely obsessive. Reproductions hardly do the originals justice.”
— Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times
“Arthur Szyk’s drawings are evidence of an exceptional mastery of crafts and of artistic inspiration.”
— Katja Widmann and Johannes Zechner, Curators, Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, 2008
“To call Arthur Szyk the greatest illuminator since the sixteenth century is no flattery. It is the simple truth which becomes manifest to any person who studies his work with the care which it deserves.”
— Cecil Roth, Historian, London, 1940s
“[Szyk] makes not only cartoons, but beautiful composed pictures which suggest, in their curiously decorative quality, the inspired illuminations of the early religious manuscripts.”
— Thomas Craven, Art Critic, New York, 1940s
Historicana Presents Szyk.com: Internationally Recognized Source for Szyk Works of Art
- Gallery of Images
- Cutting-Edge Artistry
- Craftsmen & Scholars
- Editions & Pricing
- People Are Talking
- Documentary Film
- Request Information
About Arthur Szyk
From Łódź to London
One year after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, Szyk ended his seven-month U.S. trip to return to his hometown of Łódź, Poland. He sensed the danger that Nazism posed to the world, and to the Jews of Europe in particular, and so mounted an artistic response.
Szyk spent the mid-1930s illustrating The Haggadah, retelling the ancient Passover narrative as if it were an event unfolding in his own time. He portrayed the ancient Hebrews as Eastern European Jews and the Egyptians as modern-day Nazis, complete with blond hair, blue eyes, and swastikas on their clothing. As Germany was growing more powerful by the day, no publisher in continental Europe was willing to produce a book with overt Nazi symbols. (Szyk ultimately removed them.)
Szyk brought his 48 illuminations to London, where he spent his time supervising the publication of The Haggadah. As in Paris, galleries in London—such as the Brook Street Gallery—were eager to show his work, especially after newspapers reported Queen Mary’s purchase of a Szyk miniature painting of St. George and the dragon.
In 1939, the Polish Pavilion at New York’s World’s Fair exhibited Szyk’s Polish American Fraternity series to advance US-Poland relations. That same year, Germany invaded Poland—and Szyk launched his one-man war against Fascism.