Page 85 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 5 (1946-1947)

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COHEN ---- SZYK---- ILLUSTRATOR OF BOOKS
73
This
Haggadah
came to be done through the urging of a group
of fine spirited English Christians. So magnificent is the
Haggadah
that King George of England purchased the first copy, and placed
it in his Royal Library.
In the inscription which Szyk devised for the King’s
Haggadah
,
in which the artist dedicated the book to his Majesty as a work of
the Jewish spirit, Szyk included a reference to the sufferings and
torments of the Jewish people today which, wrote the artist, remain
“unavenged and unredressed.” Before the copy was presented
to the King, however, Szyk was requested to eliminate this phrase
which he was loath to do. The carefu observer of the King’s
Haggadah
, therefore, will discover a hiatus in the inscription, for
Szyk refused to redo the page of dedication, and wanted the
unrecorded words to have their place. Through this gap, indeed
because of it, pours the silent, unspoken plea for Israel’s liberation
and redemption from their contemporary enslavement and
suffering.
So highly regarded was this beautiful
Haggadah
that the heads
of the great English Cathedrals of Canterbury and Liverpool
sought copies of it. And today among the treasures of these
centers of the Christian religion, in the heart of the British Com-
monwealth of Nations, rests the
Haggadah
of Israel, the deathless
story of the Jewish people’s love of freedom and their heroic fight
to achieve it — clothed in the stirring, inspiring beauty of Arthur
Szyk’s incomparable art.
THE BOOK OF ESTHER
His illustrations in the
Book of Esther
, twelve in number, are
in color. Their brilliant reds, blues, greens and browns are poured
out in profusion and bring to life the luxurious splendor of the
Persian court. The hangings, the clothes, the jewels, the orna-
ments and rugs fill the pictures and are wrought in minute detail.
Through open windows, and in the backgrounds of court and
palace, one glimpses in miniature the life of the people outside.
All are woven together in intricate and fascinating designs. Only
five hundred and twenty copies of this
Book of Esther
were printed,
together with the Hebrew text done by the artist’s hand.
l e w i s o h n
s
l a s t
d a y s
o f
s h y l o c k
Ludwig Lewisohn’s
Last Days of Shylock
contains twelve pic-
tures by Szyk done in black and white illustrating the numerous
events in the life of Shylock after he had left the scene of the