Way Back When...1951
Born into a prosperous, middle-class Jewish family in Poland in 1894, Arthur Szyk, above, would go on to live in France and the United Kingdom before moving to America and eventually settling in New Canaan.
A book illustrator and political artist, Szyk is best known for his World War II anti-Nazi political art and his depiction of the Haggadah, the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt traditionally told every year during the Passover Seder dinner. From 1934 to 1936, Szyk illustrated the Haggadah in 48 miniature paintings, including references to Germany’s anti-Semitic policies.
After the end of WWII, Szyk and his family moved to New Canaan in 1945 and three years later, he became a U.S. citizen. During his time in Connecticut, Szyk continued his work and was commissioned to illustrate such classics as “Andersen’s Fairy Tales” and “The Canterbury Tales.”
Not all of his time in New Canaan was peaceful, however.
Szyk was named by the House of Un-American Activities Committee as one of many accused of communist connections. A judge visited his home, asking Szyk to explain his connection to the Soviet Union. Szyk declared his innocence, arguing his only support for the USSR had been as one of the Allies during WWII.
The year illustrator and political artist Arthur Szyk died in New Canaan.
On Sept. 13, 1951, Szyk, who was 57, died of a heart attack. It was his second heart attack in four months and the third in two years. He kept up his grueling work schedule almost until the day of his death.