Combat Gallery Sunday : The Martial Art of Arthur Szyk

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sunday, I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday : The Martial Art of Arthur Szyk

Born June 16, 1894 during the reign of Tsar Nicholas II in the Central Polish city of Łódź, then part of the Holy Russian Empire, Arthur Szyk (pronounced “Shick“) showed artistic promise as youth. His father, a textile factory manager, sent young Arthur abroad to the Académie Julian in Paris in 1909 for four years then traveled Europe and Asia, finding himself in Palestine when World War I erupted.

Drafted into the Tsar’s Army as a reserve ensign, he fought in many of the pivotal battles on the Eastern Front including the one for his vey own hometown. Artistically trained, he took to sketching what he saw.

Wounded Russian soldiers. Lodz itself lost some 40 percent of its population in the war while the Russian Army threw away one million soldiers in an effort to keep Poland in the Empire in 1915.

Wounded Russian soldiers. Lodz itself lost some 40 percent of its population in the war while the Russian Army threw away one million soldiers in an effort to keep Poland in the Empire in 1915. Via the Arthur Szyk Society.

When Poland became independent once again at the end of WWI, he served as an officer in the newly formed Polish Army and fought against the Reds in the Russo-Polish War while also helping produce propaganda art for the cause.

1919 propaganda poster

1919 propaganda poster. Via the Arthur Szyk Society.

Once the war was over, he picked up his family and spent the next two decades in France, the UK and the states where he illustrated volumes of books, created postcards, created 38 watercolors in the Washington and his Times series, and produced the Haggadah.

Szyk's inside cover illustration for Andersen's fairy tales, 1944

Szyk’s inside cover illustration for Andersen’s fairy tales, 1944

Declaration of Independence. Note the Washington artwork-- Library of Congress

Declaration of Independence. Note the Washington artwork– Library of Congress

When the Second World War of his generation came forth, he jumped into the effort with both feet. His old homeland overrun, with the support of the British government and the Polish government-in-exile, he began a war of the pencils against Hitler and his like.

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"Liberty what the nazis leave behind" Aug 1941. Szyk had no love for the Soviets and it should be remembered that Stalin agreed to split his homeland with Hitler, invading Poland from the East just 17 days after the Germans did.

“Liberty what the Nazis leave behind” Aug 1941. Szyk had no love for the Soviets and it should be remembered that Stalin agreed to split his homeland with Hitler, invading Poland from the East just 17 days after the Germans did.

1939 "For a total living space, comrades in arms"

1939 “For a total living space, comrades in arms”

Satan leads the Ball

Satan leads the Ball

1939, Two comrades were serving

1939, Two comrades were serving

1944, Warriors-of-the-Polish-1st-Division-Tadeusz-Kosciuszko-by-Arthur-Szyk

1944, Warriors-of-the-Polish-1st-Division-Tadeusz-Kosciuszko-by-Arthur-Szyk

Wayside shrine

Wayside shrine

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Tears of Rage, 1942

Tears of Rage, 1942

Two polish officers. Szyk knew firsthand the Polish army as he was one of its first officers in 1919.

Two polish officers. Szyk knew firsthand the Polish army as he was one of its first officers in 1919.

The New Order

The New Order

Poland Fights Nazi Dragon - Polish War Relief, 1943-- Library of Congress

Poland Fights Nazi Dragon – Polish War Relief, 1943– Library of Congress

1939, German 'Authority' in Poland,

1939, German ‘Authority’ in Poland,

Colliers cover

Colliers cover

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His art of the time, propaganda pieces for the main part, likely did as much damage to the Axis as a battalion of Sherman tanks or a squadron of Lancaster bombers.

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With the Soviets in Poland after the end of the War, Szyk made his stay in the West permanent and in 1948 became a U.S. citizen while championing Israeli independence.

He died in 1951

Arthur Szyk self portrait

Arthur Szyk self portrait

“Art is not my aim, it is my means.” – Arthur Szyk

The U.S. Library of Congress as well as the United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial maintain extensive collections of his work as do at least two private associations to include the Arthur Szyk Society and Szyk.com.

Thank you for your work, sir.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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