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Samuel Hirszenberg: A Polish Jewish Artist in Turmoil

Born into a traditional Jewish family in Lódz in 1865, Hirszenberg gradually became attached to Polish culture and language as he pursued his artistic calling. Like Maurycy Gottlieb before him, he studied at the School of Art in Kraków, which was then headed by the master of Polish painting, Jan Matejko.

His early interests were to persist with varying degrees of intensity throughout his life: his Polish surroundings, traditional east European Jews, historical themes, the Orient, and the nature of relationships between men and women. He also had a lifelong commitment to landscape painting and portraiture.

Hirszenberg’s personal circumstances, economic considerations, and historical upheavals took him to different countries, strongly influencing his artistic output. He moved to Jerusalem in 1907 and there, as a secular and acculturated Jew who had adopted the world of humanism and universalism, he strove also to express more personal aspirations and concerns.

Chair: François Guesnet (UCL)Discussant: Antony Polonsky (Brandeis)

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