Henri Epstein’s father died when he was three. He was raised by his mother, who encouraged his interest in painting. He enrolled in Jakub Kacenbogen’s drawing school in Łodz, before studying at the School of Fine Arts in Munich until he was nineteen years old. Epstein visited Paris for the first time in 1912 before serving in the Polish army. He then returned to Paris and settled at La Ruche from 1913 to 1938, studying at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiere. Although Epstein’s early work was influenced by Fauvism, he then adopted an expressionist technique. He illustrated Gustave Coquiot’s Vagabondages (publisher Ollendorff) in 1921 and Pierre Bonardi’s Les Rois du Maquis (publisher André Delpeuch) in 1926. He also probably contributed to the Jewish artistic journal Machmadim published at La Ruche and to Renaissance, a magazine in which he wrote articles in Yiddish. Epstein bought a farm near Epernon, which became his refuge during the Occupation.
On February 23, 1944 he was arrested there by three Gestapo agents. Despite appeals by his wife (the daughter of painter Georges Dorignac) and his friends, Epstein was sent to Drancy camp on February 24, 1944. He was deported on March 7, 1944 in convoy number 69, and killed in Auschwitz.
Nieszawer & Princ
"Artistes juifs de l’Ecole de Paris 1905-1939"
Editons Somogy 2015