Idessa (Sam’s mother)
This portrait of Sam’s mother, Idessa, was painted from memory. He last saw her in the Ghetto in Magnuszew, Poland in the summer of 1941. She had tried to prevent him from being taken to a work camp and showed the officers his birth certificate, indicating that he was fourteen years old. They tore it up and sent him and his father to kneel in the square to await transportation to the camps. Sam had no photographs of his family. He believed his mother to have been gassed, along with his younger sister, Guta.
Guta (Sam’s sister)
This painting/collage appeared in a BBC documentary, where Sam describes how he could not remember his sister’s face but did think that she was wearing a pink dress when he last saw her. There are several versions of this work, all of which show a faceless image of Guta (also known as Rachel).’
The red painting shows a violin belonging to a boy called Kiveh. He had managed to hang onto it and carried it everywhere with him, though nobody ever saw him play it. One day, a guard snatched it from his hand, removed it from the case and stamped on it until it was broken beyond repair. We believe that Kiveh died shortly after this incident. Later, Sam produced a sketch of Kiveh, reunited with his fiddle and able, at last, to play in peace.
Sam painted the fish on top of a sheet of newsprint. Before he and his father were taken to the camps, they had escaped the Warsaw Ghetto and gone to live, with other families, in a barn in the village of Magnuszew. Sam’s father, a carpenter, found work there and was frequently paid in food. In an early version of this painting, Sam depicts himself as a boy, looking longingly at the fish which came wrapped in a newspaper.
Sam spent many holidays in Spain and enjoyed painting land and seascapes. This painting contains an image of an isolated white house, a recurring motif in many of his works.