HENRI EPSTEIN Łódź 1892 – 1944 Auschwitz Watercolor on paper, signed "H. EPSTEIN" 56 x 41 cm / 22 x 16.1 in
PROVENANCE Aguttes, Paris, 13 October 2013, lot 52
RELATED LITERATURE Nadine Nieszawer, Marie Boyé, Paul Fogel. Peintres Juifs à Paris 1905-1939 Ecole de Paris. Denoel, Paris, 2000 B. Savina, in Da Tiziano a De Chirico. La ricerca dell'identità Ascoli Piceno, Polo di Sant'Agostino, 4 April 2004 - 11 July 2004, p. 231, n.6; Santucci, in Tiziano e il ritratto di corte da Raffaello ai Carracci, Napoli 2006, p. 182, n. C3
The fate and creative evolution of the outstanding representative of Ecole de Paris, Heinrich Epstein, is a kind of metaphor for the rapid development of the artistic life of Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, tragically interrupted by the Second World War. Born into an educated Jewish family in Lodz in 1891, Chaim Epstein, despite the early loss of his father, was still able to receive an excellent education. Lodz, the then "textile capital" of the Russian Empire, was the most "emancipated" Jewish city and attracted many Jews from all over the country. It was there that the native of Minsk, Jakub Kacenbogen, opened his art school, where young Epstein ended up. By the way, at the Katzenbogen school, Epstein meets the still very young Zygmunt Landau, later a brilliant painter, with whom the artist will have a friendship in the future. Early showing his talent as an artist, Epstein decides to continue his education abroad, going to Munich in 1910, where he spent two years. In Munich, Epstein was impressed by the work of contemporary German painters such as Franz Marc, August Robert Ludwig Macke and especially Marianne von Werefkin. He is attracted to art by the representatives of this creative association, which was named Der Blaue Reiter, a new vision of form, drama combined with clarity and laconic color scheme. It is these qualities that will later be characteristic of Epstein's graphics. Full of new bright creative impressions, Epstein left the Bavarian capital and moved in 1913 to Paris, the real capital of the arts. He settles in the legendary la Ruche, the "city of artists" in the Saint-Lambert quarter in the 15th arrondissement of the French capital. In Paris, Epstein finds himself surrounded by his creative associates - Amedeo Modigliani, Michel Kikoine, Chaïm Soutine et Pinchus Krémègne. Beginning in the 1920s, the artist began to actively participate in exhibition life - first, in 1921 at the Autumn Salon, and later at the Salon of the Independent (in 1921, 1922, 1923, 1925 and 1928). In 1927, the artist marries Suzanne Dorignac, daughter of the painter Georges Dorignac. Remarkably, Suzanne's own sister, Céline Dorignac, was married to another painter, André Hébuterne, brother of the legendary Jeanne Hébuterne, the muse and earthly companion of Amedeo Modigliani. The 1930s have been the happiest period in the artist's life. He exhibits a lot, travels a lot. The artist's frequent trips to the sea, to Brittany, enriched the subjects of his works. Seas and the life of fishermen become an integral part of his works. He finally buys a house in Épernon, where he moves with his family. But the beginning of the Second World War became tragic for the artist. The artistic life of France becomes paralyzed. Perhaps as a result of denunciation, Epstein is arrested by the Gestapo and in 1944 he was sent to Auschwitz, from where the artist never returned. Epstein's artistic pictorial language becomes a kind of continuation of the aesthetics of late Fauvism, enriched by the expressionism of Soutine and Cocoin. Meanwhile, speaking about the artist's graphics, it is impossible not to note his "stylistic coservatism", an emphasized desire to work with clearer color planes, more characteristic, as noted above, for Der Blaue Reiter. The watercolor Port is a characteristic and striking example of Epstein's graphics, stylistically close to his works of the 1930s. The drawing before entering the gallery was in a private collection in France.
Epoque: XX century
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