Szyk’s virtuosity was not limited to imagery. A skilled calligrapher, he completed his own lettering in languages as diverse as Polish, Russian, German, French, and English—languages he spoke fluently. When faced with challenging linguistic tasks, Szyk probably consulted reference books and knowledgeable friends. He successfully painted Hebrew calligraphy (for his Passover Haggadah and other projects), Arabic (The Arabian Nights Entertainments), and even Chinese characters (Visual History of China). In all cases, his text is nearly flawless, even when painted on a miniature scale. Contrary to rumor, Szyk never worked with a magnifying glass. He relied on his own vision—he was extremely nearsighted and wore thick glasses—and worked just inches from the paper.
Once combined with his unerring eye for color and composition, Szyk’s distinctive technique yielded art of the highest order. Understanding his meticulous process only increases our appreciation of his craftsmanship and artistic genius.