(Founder of the Bezalel School of Art, 1867-1932). Tzava’ath Ha-Prof. B. Schatz

AUCTION 35 | Tuesday, November 21st, 2006 at 1:00
Books, Manuscripts, Graphic & Ceremonial Art

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Lot 285
SCHATZ, BORIS

(Founder of the Bezalel School of Art, 1867-1932). Tzava’ath Ha-Prof. B. Schatz

Four closely typed sheets, with secretarial-signatures of Ze’ev Raban and Mordechai Narkiss. * Two envelopes addressed to Narkiss and A. Wissotzky, both handwritten and signed by Prof. B. Schatz, and sealed shut with red wax seals of B. Schatz. * A Power of Attorney signed by the wife and daughter of Boris Schatz empowering attorneys Tzvi Belkovsky and Judah Behm of Tel-Aviv to present the Will to the Chief Rabbinate of Jaffa-Tel-Aviv Hebrew text

Jerusalem: August 4, 1930

Est: $5,000 - $7,000
PRICE REALIZED $8,000
Last Will and Testament of Prof. Boris Schatz. Before his departure for America in 1930, ostensibly on a fund-raising mission, Boris Schatz (1867-1932), founder of the Bezalel School of Art in Jerusalem, committed to writing this tzava’ah or Last Will and Testament. The will begins on a rather prosaic note detailing all Schatz’s property (par. 1), debts owed to others (par. 2), and finally how his property is to be divided (par. 3). He then entrust all his papers to Mordechai Narkiss to be archived at the Bezalel School (par. 4), and expresses his gratitude to the faculty and assistants of Bezalel School, at the same time begging their forgiveness if at times his demands of them seemed too exacting (par. 5). “But they would have themselves seen that I was even more demanding of myself, sparing neither strength nor money.” He notes that his professional difficulties were due to the fact that Bezalel School was created before its time and that Zionist officiates were unbale to appreciate its value. He exhorts his colleagues to continue to believe that one day Bezalel will flourish and that from it will come art for the Land and People of Israel (ibid.). Most heart-rending are the personal exhortations to Schatz's family. He addresses his son, Bezalel: “While I lived, you never knew my soul; you never understood me. Fools did not allow you to see me and recognize me. You distanced yourself from me, thus you on much. Attempt to seriously read all that I have written and all that honest men have written concerning me and Bezalel [School]. Then you will understand me and come to love me and follow in my ways” (par. 6). In that same paragraph, the son is adjured to care for his mother, who is described as mentally ill, and his sister Zahara, portrayed as neurasthenic, but promising. Schatz reveals to his son that the last two years of his life were embittered by his wife’s unfounded suspicions of an affair with his personal physician, the female Dr. Feinberg. The final message imparted to Angelika, Schatz’s daughter from his first marriage, is most revealing: “Bad luck drove us apart when you were but an infant. When I last saw you, you being a small girl, uncomprehendingly asked, what makes me more your father than … , that lout who stole you and your mother from me” (par. 8). The elliptic reference is to Andrei Nikolov, a Bulgarian student of Schatz, who ran off with Schatz’s wife Genia. Nikolov studied sculpting in Schatz’s private school in Sofia, later becoming his assistant. (See Zalmona, pp. 18-19). Paragraph 9 is full of personal recriminations against his present wife Olga, whose delusional state embittered Schatz's life. He reveals that the forthcoming trip to America, undertaken in a precarious state of health, is as much an attempt to find some repose from the poisoned atmosphere of their home, as to raise funds for the Bezalel School. Paragrah 11 stipulates that rather than have his remains transferred from overseasto the Mount of Olives, the expenses involved instead be donated to the Bezalel School. These wishes were not respected. Schatz died in Denver, Colorado, at the conclusion of a successful fund-raising mission. His body lay in the morgue of Beth Israel Hospital in Denver for six months. Eventually, his remains were buried on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. Five copies were made of Schatz's Will. A copy was entrusted to A. Wissotzky and another to Mordechai Narkiss, groomed to be Schatz’s successor at the Bezalel School. Together with a third party, S. Ben-Zion (Gutman), they were to act as executors of the will. A fourth copy was deposited in the Anglo-Palestine Bank and the fifth copy Schatz took with him to America.The will was witnessed by Ze’ev Raban and Narkiss. A note by the Office of the Chief Rabbinate of Jaffa-Tel-Aviv adds that the witnesses Raban and Narkiss appeared before the court to validate that these were indeed their signatures. Boris Schatz has no living descendants. His daughter from his first marriage, Angelika, a painter in her own right, eventually immigrated to Eretz Israel. where her son suffered from a mental illness and died childless. Schatz's children from his second marriage, Bezalel and Zahara, also died childless. See Y. Zalmona, Boris Schatz: The Father of Israeli Art (2006); and N. Shilo-Cohen ed., Bezalel 1906-1929 (1983); EJ, Vol. XIV, cols. 945-6