Skip Navigation

About the ArtistShare

Study of Skeleton Playing a Clarinet for the Painting

Felix Nussbaum (German, 1904-1944)

Study of Skeleton Playing a Clarinet for the Painting "Death Triumphant", c. 1944

  • Pencil, gouache, and chalk on paper
  • 10 7/8 x 8 13/16 in. (27.7 x 22.4 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Purchase: Mildred and George Weissman Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Communal Fund Gift, 1985-140
  • © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Not on view

largeImage

close

Study of Skeleton Playing a Clarinet for the Painting "Death Triumphant"

close

Study of Skeleton Playing a Clarinet for the Painting "Death Triumphant"

Felix Nussbaum was born to a Jewish family in Osnabruck, Germany, in 1904. Nussbaum studied art in Hamburg, Berlin, and Rome before fleeing to Belgium in 1935. There, he lived as a refugee until 1940, when he was arrested for being an enemy alien and sent to Saint Cyprien, an internment camp in southern France. Nussbaum later escaped and returned to Brussels, where he lived in hiding until 1944, when he was captured by the Nazis. He was murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau in August 1944, just one month before the liberation of Brussels.

Amazingly, Nussbaum continued to paint and draw throughout his ordeal. His art was his personal refuge, a way to maintain his spirit and sanity in the face of overwhelming danger. In 1942, Nussbaum brought some of his paintings to a friend in Brussels, along with a request: "If I perish," Nussbaum implored his friend, "do not let my pictures die; show them to the public." Nussbaum's surviving works remain a testament to the horrors of Nazi oppression and the triumph of the human spirit.