Rare Marc Chagall Painting of His Father "Zachar Shagal", Recently Restituted to the Descendants of Its Original Owner, on View at the Jewish Museum

Marc Chagall’s painting Le Père (1911), which was recently restituted to the descendants of its original owner, is now on view at the Jewish Museum through January 1, 2024.

Completed in 1911, during a transformative period in the artist’s career, Le Père was among 15 works of art that the French Government restituted in April of 2022, part of an ongoing effort to return works in its museums that were stolen by the Nazis during World War II. The painting was restituted to the descendants of David Cender, the original owner, and sold at auction by Phillips in November 2022. Following the sale, Phillips’ team in New York worked with the buyer of the artwork and facilitated the loan to the Museum.

Claudia Gould, Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director, said, “The Jewish Museum is honored to show Chagall’s rare portrait of his father. The vast and systemic pillaging of artworks during World War II, and the eventual rescue and return of many, is one of the most dramatic stories of twentieth-century art, and one that continues to have repercussions today. It is imperative that the Jewish Museum tells these stories, most recently doing so with our exhibition Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art (2021). We are grateful to Phillips for facilitating this loan.”

Part of the collection of David Cender, a musical instrument-maker from Łódź, Poland, the work was stolen from him in 1940 before he was sent to Auschwitz with his family. While Cender survived, his wife, daughter, and other relatives were killed at Auschwitz. By the early 1950s, the painting had been reacquired by Chagall himself, who held a particular affinity for it. The artist was likely unaware of the history of the painting’s ownership. In 1988, the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre national d’art et de culture Georges-Pompidou in Paris received the painting by donation from Chagall’s estate. Ten years later, the work was deposited into the Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme in Paris, where it was on view for 24 years before research showed that the work should be and was restituted to Cender’s heirs.

Le Père is a dynamic portrait that signifies Chagall’s pivotal transition from art student in Saint Petersburg to one of the defining figures of European Modernism. During the winter of 1911-1912, Chagall moved into La Ruche, an artists’ commune on the outskirts of Montparnasse, France. The works he created over the next three years are among the most highly regarded of his career, with his portraits bearing particular significance. Le Père is an intimate portrait of the artist’s father Zahar, a quiet and shy man who spent his entire life working in the same manual labor job. Portraits of the artist’s father are rare within Chagall’s oeuvre. Far from the generalized symbols of lovers that dominated much of his later paintings, this early work is a remarkably personal and heartfelt depiction.

Who is Zachar Shagal?


On January 19thBenjamin Ferencz, the legendary Nuremberg Chief Prosecutor was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal – the nation's highest expression of appreciation for achievements and contributions.
Yaacov Heller and Benjamin Ferencz in Good Jewish News Magazine

The appreciation for Ferencz has been going on for years.  In late 2020, the bust of Ferencz, created by acclaimed artist/sculptor Yaacov Heller, was permanently housed in the halls of the International Criminal Court in the Hague, the world's first permanent criminal court.  It is part of the film "Two Heads Are Better Than One: Making of the Ben Ferencz Bust," produced by Eric Kline Productions.

Heller is now offering premiere numbered, first editions of the bust to commemorate Ferencz.

Each bust will be made from the original mold, cast in bronze, mounted on marble, hand signed and numbered by the sculptor.  Heller suggests that "the bust can be gifted to an individual, organization, congregation or center as an award to honor those who have contributed to the causes of peace, tolerance, humanity and acceptance. Those, like Ben Ferencz, who stand for law, not war."

Ferencz' case at Nuremberg was the Einsatzgruppen trial, also known as "the biggest murder trial in history." In 1947, he famously tried and convicted twenty-two Nazi high-ranking officers responsible for killing more than one million Jews. After World War 2, Ferencz oversaw the Israel – Germany reparations program. He has been an advocate of and has been cited as one of the main catalysts behind the formation of the International Criminal Court, implementing the formation of 'rule of law.'

Yaacov Heller has been an acclaimed sculptor and artist for more than sixty years. He is best known for his sculptures of Biblical themes which are enjoyed around the world. Like Ferencz, he has long been an advocate of tolerance, leading him to create "The Garden of Humanity" in Boca Raton, Florida. Completed in 2015, the garden has fourteen benches, including one featuring a quote from Ferencz. This is where Ferencz and Heller first met in 2018.

In early 2019, Ferencz visited again with Heller. The two spent several hours talking about peace, war, humanity, and tolerance.  Producer/Director Eric Kline and his video crew were there and captured the entire captivating conversation.

At the end of the visit, Heller asked Ferencz if he could create a bust of him. "No one has ever created a bust of me before, sure, go for it," said Ferencz. "Two heads are better than one."

That was the seed of an idea for Eric Kline to create a documentary not only of the conversations he taped between these two legends, but to also follow Heller's artistic journey as he created the bust of Ferencz in a mere two weeks' time.  The bust's acceptance into the ICC was the icing on the cake.

Even before it goes into wide release, the documentary has received an overwhelmingly positive response at film festivals. On March 15, "Two Heads" will be shown during the Boca Raton Jewish Film Festival. A Q&A session with Heller, Kline will follow the showing.

LinkedIn Icon Small Rounded     Facebook Icon Small Rounded     Twitter Icon Small Rounded
Good Jewish News
The Only "Good News" Luxury Lifestyle Magazine About Jewish Culture

© 2023 / 5783