FINE ART PRINTS. New York, 1949. First edition lithograph of 4000 years of Jewish history. From the Visual History of Nations series.
our thousand years of Jewish history come to life in Arthur Szyk's Visual History of Israel, completed by the artist in 1948, the year of Statehood, and printed in 1949. Biblical King David (top left) and his son King Solomon (top right), shown holding a copy of 'Song of Songs', flank three famous Biblical personages: the warrior Hur, Moses the deliverer, and Moses' brother and high priest, Aaron. The blue Star of David dominates the print, with the 'Crown of the Good Name'; directly above, and Hillel's dictum 'If I am not for myself, Who will be for me?' below. The clusters of grapes symbolize the historic bounty and productivity of the land. This is a direct reference to the large grapes Joshua and Caleb brought back after a brief spy trip into the Land of Israel, before Joshua led the Israelites into Canaan. The phrase, 'The time of our freedom', also appears with the Star, referring to the Deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. Bar Kochba sits to the left of the Star. He led a temporarily successful revolt against the Romans 65 years after they had destroyed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (in 70 C.E.). His shield displays the Star of David, which symbolizes God's security and strength. The prophet Ezekiel sits to the right. He foretold the return of the Jews to their Homeland after their 70 years of captivity in Babylon. The two tablets containing the Ten Commandments anchor the lower section, flanked on the right by the pioneer builder (chalutz) and on the left by the soldier. The activity of both has been essential to the well-being and success of Israel, especially since 1948. The oranges next to the soldier, now exported worldwide, mirror the grapes on the opposite side as a contemporary expression of Israel's accomplishment. Two fierce Lions of Judah sit poised at both sides of the base of the Decalogue. The Hebrew language script both above and below Bar Kochba and Ezekiel proclaim: 'Praise be You God, our God, King of the Universe, who had kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to commemorate this time.' This prayer for newness and celebration refers to the blessing of the creation of the New State of Israel. The historic organization of Israel into twelve tribes is depicted throughout the painting by the twelve yellow colored symbols, one for each of the twelve tribes. Interspersed along the four vertical columns, these signs of the tribes integrate the composition just as the tribes they symbolize represented the heart of the Nation of ancient Israel long ago.
Price: Framed $500 / Un-Framed $300
First edition lithograph [Visual History of Nations series]. New York, 1949. Publisher: K. Bileski; Printer: Arthur Jaffe (of the Metropolitan Museum, NY). SIGNED by Arthur Szyk. Image measures: 7 7/8 inches x 6 1/2 inches. Sheet measures: 11 1/2 inches x 9 7/8 inches. Fine condition. Note: The left margin of this lithograph is wider than the right. All lithographs in the Visual History of Nations series were printed in this fashion, as they were commissioned as frontispieces for bound stamp albums. Hence, a wider margin on the edge closest to the binding, so that both margins would appear equal in the finished volume. When matted correctly, the difference is not visible. Publishing History: Arthur Szyk's Visual History of Nations series consists of highly illuminated and brilliantly designed visual histories of individual founding and member countries of the United Nations. This series of images was commissioned in 1945 by Canadian philatelist and entrepreneur Kasimir Bileski and originally referred to as The United Nations Series. Each print was created as an exquisite frontispiece and title page for a unique international stamp album. All images reflect the artistic genius of the 20th century's greatest miniaturist illuminator and painter. Of the approximately 60 colorful and highly detailed images commissioned by Bileski, only nine countries were completed (plus the History of Flight) and printed prior to Szyk's sudden death in 1951. Identification of the Graphics and Symbols of The Visual History of Israel.
(Comes with a key for the following):
2. Aaron, the High Priest, brother of Moses
3. The warrior Hur
4. The Ten Commandments
5. King David
6. King Solomon
7. “The Crown of a Good Name“
8. “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” — Hillel the Sage
9. The warrior Bar-Kochba, who led a revolt against Rome (ca.135 C.E.)
10. The prophet Ezekiel, who foretold the return to the Holy Land
11. The Magen David, the Star of David
12. “The Time of our Freedom”
13. An Israeli soldier
14. An Israeli pioneer and builder (chalutz)
15. Shehecheyanu, the Hebrew prayer for newness and celebration [“Praised be You, God, our God, King of the Universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to commemorate this time”]—in this case, a blessing for the creation of the new State of Israel