Jacob, Joseph and the Photographer has been sold by the New York Sotheby’s auction house to the Polish National Museum. The transaction is financed by Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage crowning the 2012 Year of Bruno Schulz
The Minister of Culture, Bogdan Zdrojewski commented upon the purchase:
I am very glad as this is a fantastic crowning of the period that was dedicated to Bruno Schulz, and we are able to close this time with the good news of purchasing a pencil drawing Jacob, Joseph and a Photographer.
It was bidded for a sum of 46.8 thousand dollars, and the money for the purchase was provided by the Ministry and dedicated to the National Museum in Warsaw, as this is where the drawing will have its new home.
The drawing will arrive at the Museum in January 2013 and it is going to go through a series of examinations, following which the conservators will announce the date of its public presentation.
The Polish Minister further explained:
The title of the drawing suggests it is an illustration for The Hourglass Sanatorium collection, which was published by the Wydawnictwo Rój publishing house in 1937. I will remind you that the main protagonist of the collection is Joseph, who is also the narrator, wandering across his own imagined world, very much resembling the author’s family town. The sketched drawing itself comes from the collection of Schulz’s last inheritant and it documents his literary work.
Mr. Zdrojewski stated that the occasion to purchase the drawing for the Polish collection was a very rare opportunity which he felt lucky to be able to seize. The Minister said that it is very seldom that such drawings are bidded on at an auction, and the purchase comes very much in time, like a Christmas gift.
Bruno Schulz was a writer painter, illustrator and graphic artist known for short story collections that bring back the magical reality of Poland's pre-war shtetl's. Born on the 12th of July 1892 in Drohobych (present Ukraine), he died there on November 19, 1942 in tragic circumstances. Schulz's output as a writer was relatively modest in terms of quantity, but exceptionally rich in quality and subject matter. It consists of two volumes of short stories - The Street of Crocodiles and The Hourglass Sanatorium - and a handful of texts the writer did not include in the first editions of these two collections. Apart from the stories, there is an unusually interesting set of letters, published in the so-called Księga listów / Book of Letters, as well as "critical essays" (primarily press reviews of literary works) that were only recently collected and published in a separate volume.
Schulz’s father was the owner of a textile store, and the family sold colonial grocery goods and spices. The young writer-to-be studied architecture but had to quit his studies due to an illness. After the death of his father, Schulz took up the job of a drawing teacher in a junior high school in Drohobych. He worked as a teacher until 1941. When the nazis invaded the town, they hired Schulz who catalogued the confiscated goods. He was shot on the 19th of November, 1942, on the street of the Drohobych ghetto.
For more information about the artist, see; brunoschulz.eu
Jacob, Joseph and the Photographer
signed Bruno Schulz and dated 1938 - (lower right)
pencil on paper, unframed
Executed in 1938.
Source: press release, sothebys.com, http://www.brunoschulz.org