Cover image for Traces of a Jewish Artist: The Lost Life and Work of Rahel Szalit By Kerry Wallach

Traces of a Jewish Artist

The Lost Life and Work of Rahel Szalit

Kerry Wallach


$39.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09559-2

Available as an e-book

312 pages
7" × 10"
8 color/79 b&w illustrations/1 map

Dimyonot: Jews and the Cultural Imagination

Traces of a Jewish Artist

The Lost Life and Work of Rahel Szalit

Kerry Wallach

“This masterful historical reconstruction gives welcome due to a forgotten talent.”


  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Bio
  • Table of Contents
  • Sample Chapters
  • Subjects
Graphic artist, illustrator, painter, and cartoonist Rahel Szalit (1888–1942) was among the best-known Jewish women artists in Weimar Berlin. But after she was arrested by the French police and then murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz, she was all but lost to history, and most of her paintings have been destroyed or gone missing. Drawing on a range of primary and secondary sources, this biography recovers Szalit’s life and presents a stunning collection of her art.

Szalit was a sought-after artist. Highly regarded by art historians and critics of her day, she made a name for herself with soulful, sometimes humorous illustrations of Jewish and world literature by Sholem Aleichem, Heinrich Heine, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, and others. She published her work in the mainstream German and Jewish press, and she ran in artists’ and queer circles in Weimar Berlin and in 1930s Paris. Szalit’s fascinating life demonstrates how women artists gained access to Jewish and avant-garde movements by experimenting with different media and genres.

This engaging and deeply moving biography explores the life, work, and cultural contexts of an exceptional Jewish woman artist. Complementing studies such as Michael Brenner’s The Renaissance of Jewish Culture in Weimar Germany, this book brings Rahel Szalit into the larger conversation about Jewish artists, Expressionism, and modern art.

“This masterful historical reconstruction gives welcome due to a forgotten talent.”
“This first-ever critical biography of Rahel Szalit skillfully recovers and reassembles the scattered fragments of her life to create a vivid mosaic of an artist forgotten because she was Jewish, a woman, queer, and, in many ways, stateless. Based on meticulous archival work, Kerry Wallach’s brilliant book recuperates an unjustly neglected chapter in the history of Jewish art and interwar culture.”
“Wallach creates a rich, lively, and very detailed picture of Rahel Szalit-Marcus as an artist and a person through extensive research across a wide range of resources. Traces of a Jewish Artist gives depth and nuance to scholarly conversations about modern Jewish art in Europe. It expands histories of Jewish and women artists in early twentieth-century Germany and poignantly demonstrates the significant loss of so many stories.”

Kerry Wallach is Associate Professor and Chair of German Studies and an affiliate of the Jewish Studies Program at Gettysburg College. She is the author of Passing Illusions: Jewish Visibility in Weimar Germany.


List of Illustrations



Part 1 From the Shtetl to the City (1888–1919)

1 The Markus Family in Eastern Europe

2 Munich, War, and Marriage

3 Berlin Expressionist Circles

Part 2 Inflation- Era Illustrations (1920–1923)

4 Classic World Literature

5 Grotesque Yiddish Figures

6 “Hebrew Melodies

Part 3 The Wild Sides of Weimar (1924–1933)

7 Newspaper Artist

8 Sexuality and the Bible

9 The Jewish K.the Kollwitz

Part 4 Exile in Paris (1933–1942)

10 From Berlin to the School of Paris

11 Holocaust Fates

Epilogue: Remembering Rahel Szalit


Appendix 1: Rahel Szalit’s Known Exhibitions and Works

Appendix 2: Translations of Short Stories by Rahel Szalit


Selected Bibliography


Download a PDF sample chapter here: Introduction

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