Henryk Epstein

(1891 - 1944)

Henryk Epstein

Biography

Painter and graphic artist, son of the antique dealer from Łódź. He began studying drawing and painting at private Szkoła Rysunku Jakuba Kacenbogena  (Jakub Kacenbogen's School of Drawing) in Łódź. Then, around 1910, he began his studies in Munich. From 1913 he has studied in Paris at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. During World War I he joined Polish army. After the war, he lived in Montparnasse surrounded by Parisian avant-garde artists, associated with famous rotunda La Ruche (Epstein rented studio there until 1938). He became friend of Amadeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine, Marc Chagall, Jules Pascin and Maurice Utrillo. Since the early 20's he has participated in Parisian art exhibitions. His sole individual exposition was a posthumous presentation of his work in Parisian Galerie Berri-Raspail (1946). After the war, his works of art has been shown in many exhibitions with artist of Ecole de Paris. Henry Epstein painted still lifes, nudes, landscapes and figurative compositions. What is more, he was an illustrator of books. He purchased a property near Épernon, where he hid during the occupation. On 23th of February in 1944 he was imprisoned in concentration camp in Drancy. On 7th of March, 1944 he was transported to Auschwitz, where he died.

Epstein frequently painted acts and portraits, depicting the shape of  female body in very precise manner. The Act shows woman's body enhanced by chiaroscuro modeling, edged by distinctive contour. Soft colour scheme, limited to the tones of the earth, was used to paint the background as well as to depict the shape of model's body. Due to colour scheme, the silhouette, clearly distinguishable from the background, blends subtly in the plane showed behind her. Two distinct areas - the background and the female figure - intertwine and complement. Epstein depicted the model in an undefined scenery, without bringing her into detailed context.
The image is close to the work of Epstein reproduced in the catalog of the Parisian exhibition Pinacothèque de Paris from 2012, La Collection Jonas Netter. Modigliani, Soutine et l’Aventure de Montparnasse, p. 223, catalog item No. 92, entitled as Akt stojący (Satnding Act).