Ben Uri collection

The Blind Fiddler

Artist information

Name Isaac Lichtenstein (1888-1981)

Other name Yisroel Likhtenshteyn, Israel Lichtenstein

Born Lodz, Poland

Died New York, USA

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Isaac Lichtenstein was born in 1887 in Lodz, Poland. As a young man he travelled widely, going to Paris at the turn of the twentieth century, where he was among the loose group of emigre artists, mainly of Jewish descent, living and working together at the collection of La Ruche (the beehive) studios in Montparnasse, known as the Ecole de Paris. Together with Pinchus Krémègne, Henri Epstein, Leo Koenig, Marek Schwarz and Leon Indenbaum, Lichtenstein was one of the artists behind the publication of Machmadim, a textless journal of Jewish art that was first published in 1912. Shortly after the outbreak of the First World War, Lichtenstein arrived in London together with Lazar Berson (who in 1915 founded Ben Uri), although Lichtenstein is thought to have lived in the United States for much of the war. In 1918 he volunteered to join the Jewish Legion and served in Palestine. During the 1920s Lichtenstein was briefly in London, where he was in contact with Ben Uri, designing its second logo after Berson's departure and giving a talk at the Society in 1920; in 1931 an exhibition of his paintings and drypoint etchings was held at the Ben Uri Jewish Art and Literary Society at 63 Mansell Street in London. Afterwards, Lichtenstein moved between London, Poland, Paris and the United States, where he spent most of his life, reviving the Machmadim Publishing House devoted to the production of artistic Yiddish books.

Object Details

Date 1924

Object type painting

Medium oil on canvas

Materials and techniques oil (medium) canvas (support)

Unframed 89 x 63 cm

Framed 95 x 70 cm

Signed verso: Lichtenstein 1924

Acquisition purchased 1925

Accession number 1987-220

Display status not on display

The Blind Fiddler combines traditional folk iconography with an angular style clearly influenced by Cubism, revealing the importance of Lichtenstein’s experience as part of the École de Paris. The fiddler (a popular motif in the work of Chagall) is here paired with a child, and stands in front of a colourful urban cityscape, which recalls the Orphism of Sonia and Robert Delaunay.

Selected exhibition history

1925 Official Opening at Great Russell Street

1945 Exhibition of Paintings by A.A Wolmark (Konstam Collection), Dobrinsky Paris, and a selection of work from the Ben Uri Collection

1946 Ben Uri Collection of Paintings, Sculpture & Drawings

1948 Exhibition of Jewish Art

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© Isaac Lichtenstein estate