United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Prime minister Haman outlining his plan to kill the Jews to Persia's King Ahasuerus, 1925
The Art and Politics of Arthur Szyk
jewish artist

Curator's comments curator's
[USHMM #93812/Alexandra Szyk Bracie, Florida;
Original dimensions: 9 1/4" x 6 5/8"]
Prime minister Haman outlining his plan to kill the Jews to Persia's King Ahasuerus, 1925
The biblical Book of Esther (in French, Le Livre d'Esther) recounts the efforts of Esther and her uncle Mordechai to save the Jews of ancient Persia from annihilation. During times of crisis, Jews have drawn strength from this text, which dramatizes the persecution of the Jews, extols their heroic resistance, and proclaims their eventual triumph over their enemies. Le Livre d'Esther was published in 1925 in Paris during Szyk's second sojourn there (1921–1937). Its illustrations display his talent for decorative detail as well as his fascination with the "orientalist" trend in Jewish art. Szyk incorporated motifs drawn from archaeological discoveries in the Near East, such as winged bulls of Assyria and cuneiform writing.

Steve Luckert

United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.

Playing time 1:08]

Dr. Steve Luckert, curator of The Art and Politics of Arthur Szyk, speaks about Szyk's illustrations of the biblical Book of Esther. Szyk illustrated the Book of Esther twice, in the 1920s and again in the 1950s. Both times, says Dr. Luckert, the themes portrayed in the artwork were Szyk's "answer to the antisemitism of his times."

Wartime Caricaturist
Action - Not Pity
Szyk resources
Wartime Caricaturist



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