Visual History of Flight by Arthur Szyk, 1947
Shaw Galleries

Visual History of Flight by Arthur Szyk, 1947

Regular price $50.00

"Visual History of Flight" by Arthur Szyk, 1947

It's ironic that the year 1947 was marked both by the end of the Second World War and weather so bad that it led to plane crashes and other transportation trouble. Even so, the importance of the plane's role in World War II is impossible to underestimate: both the Allies and their enemies were able to sneak across borders under the cover of night using the machines and could drop powerful bombs in order to advance the war. Not to mention that planes had made it easier to transport soldiers - and the food and materials they needed to survive - overseas. At home in the US, women built these planes and children collected the scrap metal that was needed to construct those and other war machines. When artist Arthur Szyk was commissioned to do the lithograph series Visual History of Nations (1945-1949), he included this print, sometimes called Visual History of Flight, but also known as Air Mail of the World. It includes the image of Leonardo da Vinci, who is thought to be one of the first scientists to conceive of such a flying machine, is seen holding a scroll with his own design and quote. Above him is a 1940s plane and around both are stamps demonstrating planes, blimps, helicopters, and hot air balloons from different centuries. The brilliantly colored first edition lithograph is decorated by intricate detail including the small wings and flower designs framing both the interior design and the outer frame of the image. 

Born in Poland in 1894, Arthur Szyk became a famous Jewish artist renowned for his caricatures. The young Szyk was talented and, after practicing by sketching scenes from the Tanakh, he was sent to Paris to study art. He worked in Poland and France during the beginning of his career. However, his move to New York City, his exhibition at the World's Fair, and his publication of a critically acclaimed illustration of the Haggadah skyrocketed his career. During the Second World War, he was famous for his caricatures of both the Axis and the Allies, but was well loved by Americans, even receiving audience with numerous presidents and even the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The latter part of his life was spent in New Canaan, Connecticut where he worked illustrating classic works, such as excerpts from The Old Testament and Geoffrey Chaucer's classic story The Canterbury Tales. After his death in 1951, Arthur Szyk disappeared from the attention of the art world until 1991, when George Gooche established the Arthur Szyk Society. It was first located in Orange County but was then moved to Burlingame, California. Their work to promote his art and legacy inspired a number of exhibitions at museums across the country, including The Library of Congress and multiple Holocaust museums.

- Onastasia Youssef

Plate size: 8 x 6.5"

Sheet size: 11.5" x 10"

Condition: In excellent condition