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Papers of Esther Lurie

Identifier: RG 2144

Scope and Contents

The papers of artist Esther Lurie, including twelve original etchings and drawings based on her experiences in the Kaunas Ghetto. These are titled as follows: “Several Women Portraits;” “Portrait of a Woman;” “Man with Hat” (Mordechai Levtrov); “Self-Portrait” [two artworks]; “Joseph Lurie” (father of artist); “Girl;” “Potato Pickers” [three artworks]; “Man Sitting;” and “Woman Eating.” There is also a copy of Sketches From a Woman’s Labour Camp by the artist, which includes fifteen drawings by Lurie.

Other original works include: 1) a 24” x 28” oil painting of an European interior dating from 1939; 2) a 15” x 20” oil painting of an outdoor scene with a house, 1937; 3) the artist’s proof etching of a woman with a yellow star, undated; 4) an etching, numbered 1/130, titled “Zionist Congress,” undated; 5) and ten engraved copper or silver plates for the imprinting of etchings.

Also included are personal documents and correspondence, notably between Lurie and academics such as Paul Michaelis, as well as Lurie and Eli Weinberg, a Jewish anti-apartheid trade union activist and photographer in South Africa, during the 1930s. The collection includes approximately 20 photos taken by Weinberg, in addition to a copy of Weinberg’s published photo album, Portrait of a People.


  • Creation: 1912 - 1955


Biographical / Historical

Esther Lurie was born in 1913 in Liepāja, Latvia and lived in Riga during her adolescent life. At the age of 15, she began to study drawing, painting, and sculpting privately with artists. She formally studied art in Belgium and immigrated to Israel in 1934, pursuing her art career there. Lurie returned to Lithuania and Latvia often to visit family; in 1941, while visiting her sister in Kaunas, Lurie was caught by Nazi officials and deported to the Kaunas ghetto. She was later moved to the Stutthof and Leibitsch Concentration Camps; in both the ghetto and the camps, Lurie produced drawings that illustrate her experiences under these conditions. After liberation, Lurie returned to Israel. Lurie died in Tel Aviv in 1998.


2 Linear Feet (2 linear feet + one oversized box)

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Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States