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Yehuda Pen

Yehuda Pen
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Yehuda Pen, 1905

Yudel Pen ( 1854-1937) was a Jewish-Belarusian artist-painter, a teacher and an outstanding figure of the Jewish Renaissance in the Belarus art of the beginning of XX century.

Yudel Pen was born on May 24 (on June 5th Old style) 1854 in the city of Novoalexandrovsk (nowadays Zarasai, Lithuania).He was born to a poor family and was only four years old when his father died. His mother sent him to a cheder, where the little boy displayed a gift for drawing. He avidly devoted himself to that pastime, drawing letters in books, coloring Purim rattles, making mizrachim and taking an order for the ornamental decoration of the title page of the Pinkos for the local religious community. The young artist also drew portraits of local inhabitants, generals and mounted Cossacks, giving preference to that type of "art". His passion for drawing met with no approval or support in the family, and his mother, despairing of her son's ever doing well, left him to his own devices. Meanwhile, a distant relation of theirs, who had a small business making signboards and painting parquet floors in the town of Dvinsk (Daugavpils, Latvia) not far from Novo-Alexandrovsk, heard about the gifted lad. In late 1867 Yehuda Pen left for Dvinsk, where he became the housepainter's apprentice Early having been deserted, since 1867 worked as apprentice in the painter house in Dvinsk (nowadays Daugavpils, Latvia). In 1879 he moved to Saint Petersburg, in 1880 has acted in the Academy of arts. Studied at P. Chistyakov. Upon graduating from the Academy (1886) veins in Dvinsk and Riga.

In 1891 he settled in Vitebsk and a year later opened first private school of drawing and painting in Russian Empire - the Jewish art school. Pen's pupils were Ilya Mazel, Yefim Minin, Oskar Meshchaninov, Marc Chagall, Osip Tsadkin, Lazar Lisitsky.

In 1927 to Pen was confered a rank of the Deserved Jewish artist.

The artist was killed at home in Vitebsk February 28/March 1, 1937. Circumstances of murder remain unknown.

After Pen's death gallery of his works was created in Vitebsk. Now Pen's works are stored in the Vitebsk art museum and the National art museum of Belarus

Street in Vitebsk