Lot 144

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Arthur Szyk Illuminated Manuscript, "This Bible is for the Government of the People, by the People, and for the People"

An illuminated manuscript by Polish-Jewish artist Arthur Szyk (1894-1952), probably part of a preparatory study for a Szyk-illustrated frontispiece later published in Mortimer J. Cohen, "Pathways Through The Bible" (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1946), an abridged version of the Old Testament intended for young readers. The original artwork is comprised of 16 words of text, "This Bible is for the Government of the People, by the People, and for the People," carefully delineated in Gothic lettering in red and black ink on a stock card. Complete with a medieval-inspired foliate flourish near the end. Provenance: Consigned directly from Arthur Szyk's family.

The illuminated manuscript is displayed in a floating mount (appearing to be hinged at the ends) at the center. Expected surface wear including the slightest edge darkening, else near fine. Matted and framed behind glass in a frame showing expected wear. Not examined out of the frame. Hand-stamped on the frame backing verso, "Aug 11 1999." The sight size of the illuminated manuscript is 4" x 1" while the overall framed size is 8.75" x 6.625" x 1.25."

This quote, "This Bible is for the Government of the People, by the People, and for the People" is part of the frontispiece illustration that Szyk designed for Mortimer J. Cohen's young religious reader. The illustration depicts an open Torah scroll, with the adapted quote from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address at center, flanked by Moses and Aaron at the terminals, and bordered by a menorah at top and a six-pointed star at bottom (see the attached photo of the Cohen's title page for a point of comparison.) In his biography of the artist, "Arthur Szyk: Artist, Jew, Pole" (Liverpool: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2004), Joseph P. Ansell argues that the frontispiece, with its blend of religious and civic allusions, served "as a reminder to young Jewish Americans of the single foundation of their dual heritage" (p. 176).

Arthur Szyk was a talented illustrator who settled permanently in the United States after 1940. He used his technical knowledge of medieval and Renaissance book illumination to create intricate drawings and illustrations commenting on history, spiritual life, and modern politics.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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March 15, 2023 11:00 AM EDT
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