London: MacGibbon and Kee, 1965. Item #04663
The First Trade Edition of Ben Shahn's Haggadah
SHAHN, Ben, illustrator. The Haggadah for Passover. Copied and illustrated by Ben Shahn. With a translation, introduction and historical notes by Cecil Roth. London: MacGibbon and Kee, .
First trade edition. Large quarto (11 7/8 x 8 1/2 inches; 301 x 216 mm.). xx, 133, [1, blank] pp.
Publisher's cream cloth over boards, covers and spine decorated in gilt. Pictorial dust jacket. Fore-edge with some stains, dust jacket with light waterstain at top of spine. A very good copy.
Ben SHAHN (1898-1969) was a Lithuanian-born American artist. He is best known for his works of social realism, his left-wing political views, and his series of lectures published as The Shape of Content, in which he set forth his views on both the practice and purpose of art…
Many of the illustrations in Shahn’s Haggadah were made around 1930. However, it was not until 1965 that the artist collected the drawings and watercolors together to form the printed Haggadah. Shahn said that the work “reflects my memories of the Passover in my father’s house. It reflects my early impressions and feelings; the images that were always invoked in my fancy by the majestic and meaningful ritual.” The theme of struggle against oppression, which is central to the Passover story, was a common one in Shahn’s work. At the time the Haggadah illustrations were made, Shahn was also working on a set of illustrations depicting the Dreyfus Affair, in which a Jewish Frenchman was falsely accused of espionage and imprisoned for nearly five years in the infamous Devil’s Island penal colony in French Guiana. From 1961 to 1967, Shahn worked on the stained glass at Temple Beth Zion, a Buffalo, NY synagogue designed by Harrison & Abramovitz.
The Haggadah is a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder. Reading the Haggadah at the Seder table is a fulfillment of the mitzvah to each Jew to "tell your son" of the Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt as described in the Book of Exodus in the Torah ("And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying: It is because of that which the LORD did for me when I came forth out of Egypt."