Zarfin 2008–2014

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NB. 1. References of the type Z.000 refer to the inventory of the artist’s workshop that was done around 1976. Some of these paintings and drawings are reproduced in the catalogue that is currently under construction on the website under the rubric Works.

NB. 2. In some of the documents that are reproduced or are accessible via weblinks, Zarfin’s first name is given as Sam, instead of Faibich Schraga: this error dates from a publication that appeared in the first decade of the 21st century.

NB. 3. Some of the very small images inserted between links refer to websites from which they originate (Artprice, for example).


• July 1, 2008. Sale at auction, by Artcurial (Paris) of several canvases by Zarfin (lot numbers 526 to 531: the prices achieved, not including costs, range generally from €2000-€3000 according to Artprice, with some inversion of reproductions and titles).

For example:

Family in the countryside. Oil on canvas (Z.629), 47x38 cm, 2000€

The Forest. Oil on canvas, 60x82 cm, (Z.890) 3000€

Bouquet of flowers, oil on canvas, 60x81 cm, 2800 €


• In November 2009, Alexander Khotchinski [Хочинский], director of the Bohema (Богема) gallery in Moscow, bought a number of Zarfin canvases, some of which are presented on his website


Z.943, oil on canvas, 62x50 cm (12F), Suburban landscape.

Z.952. Oil on canvas, 55x46 cm (10F), The great wall (Honfleur)


• Publication of the study by Vladimir Shastny [Шчасны], Художники Парижской школы из Беларуси [Painters of the Paris School originating from Belarus], Minsk, 4/4, 2010 (publishing house run by Liliana Antsoukh): an entry is devoted to Zarfin.

• Discovery in the Zarfin archives of a set of designs for fabrics which appear to date from the 1930s. Some of these were no doubt intended for the company run by Olga Olby (Kichinev, 1900- Auray, 1990), a painter who also worked in the applied arts and supplied designers of haute couture.


• For the creation in Minsk of a gallery devoted to painters of the Paris School who originated from what is known today as Belarus, such as Soutine, Chagall, Krémègne, Kikoïne, Lubitch and Zarfin, 16 works by this latter painter were acquired, these being 11 canvases and five works on paper mounted on cardboard (oil and gouache). These acquisitions were financed by Belgazprombank and various private collectors.

Z.555, oil on canvas, 65×81 cm, Large blue ship.

Z. 753. Oil on canvas, 60×81 cm, The red château.

Z.817. Oil on canvas, 60×81 cm, Lodève landscape.

Z.233. Gouache and oil on paper, 65×50 cm, The château of Brissac.

Z.256. Gouache and oil on paper, 65×50 cm, Group of children.


• 15 May 2012. Belgazprombank publishes a lengthy article devoted to Zarfin on its website (in Russian) : http://belgazprombank.livejournal.c...

• Mme Liliane Dulac, Zarfin’s daughter, donates two works by her father to the Museum of Fine Art in Minsk:

Z.205. 65×50 cm, gouache and oil on paper, Brignt ship (Museum of Fine Art, Minsk)

Z. 884. Oil on canvas, 81×60 cm, Wood (Museum of Fine Art, Minsk)

• 20 September 2012, preview at the Museum of Fine Art of Minsk of the exhibition devoted to painters of the Paris School originating from Belarus: this exhibition brought together works acquired by Belgazprombank and various private collectors, as well as those donated to the Museum (in total, over 20 works by Zarfin). Special guests invited to this exhibition included Mme Dinah Lubitch, daughter of the painter Ossip Lubitch; Dr Yves Dulac, Zarfin’s grandson; and Mme Nadine Nieszawer, an expert on the Paris School ( and author of the study Jewish Painters in Paris 1905-1939: the Paris School (in collaboration with Marie Boyé and Paul Fogel), with a preface by Claude Lanzmann, Paris, Denoël, 2000 (entry on Zarfin).

For a video on the exhibition, see:

Exposition peintres de l’École de Paris d’origine biélorusse à Minsk, septembre 2012
Reportage TV biélorusse sur l’exposition sur les peintres de l’école de Paris d’origine biélorusse: Chagall, Soutine, Zarfin, Lubitch, Kikoïne, au musée national d’art à Minsk
Yves Dulac

The invited guests visited the birthplaces of several of the artists in the exhibition, and in particular, Smilovitchi, a small town of 4000 inhabitants where both Soutine and Zarfin spent part of their childhood.

Old houses in Smilovitchi

The Volma in Smilovitchi: both the river and the forest were much more extensive at the beginning of the 20th century.

• Publication of a major catalogue of the exhibition “Painters of the Paris School originating from Belarus” (Мастакi Парыжскай школы з Беларусi, Minsk, “4x4” publishing house, 2012): the section devoted to Zarfin is on pp. 126-151.

• October 2012. “4x4”, the Four Quarters Publishing House, run by Liliana Antsouk in Minsk, which published the catalogue of the exhibition, announce their intention to publish a study devoted to the work of Zarfin.

• September-October 2012. Various articles and video reports related to the exhibition.

Y. Abdourahmanov gave this presentation of the event:

An exhibition of painters of the Paris School originating from Belarus, was held in Minsk, at the National Museum of Fine Art of the Republic of Belarus from 22 September 2012 to 14 January 2013.

The majority of the works shown at this exhibition belong to Belgazprombank, including canvases by Chagall, Soutine, Kikoïne, Zarfin, Lubitch and others, as well as drawings and a small sculpture by Zadkine. The Museum of Fine Art exhibited various Suprematist works by Nadia Léger and two aquatints by Chagall. Various private collectors lent paintings by Robert Guénine and Shraga Zarfin.

23 paintings by Zarfin featured in this exhibition, 11 of which came from private collections.

If the Belarusian public were already familiar with the work of Chagall, thanks to various exhibitions of the painter’s work organised in Minsk and Vitebsk over the last 15 years, in the four rooms of the exhibition “Painters of the Paris School originating from Belarus”, they will also have discovered, for the first time, painters such as Kikoïne, Krémègne, Zarfin, Lubitch, Eugène Zak, Jacob Balgley, and Robert Guénine… More than 50,000 people visited the exhibition in Minsk.

The Russian and Belarusian media devoted a lot of attention to this exhibition, and if journalists and art critics concentrated in particular on the works of Chagall and the single canvas by Soutine, the visitors to the museum expressed their preference for Zarfin, their discovery of this painter being made possible by this cultural event.

Zarfin’s grandson, Yves Dulac, was present at the opening of the exhibition, having been entrusted by his parents to donate to the National Museum of Fine Art of the Republic of Belarus two paintings by Shraga Zarfin, “Wood” and “Bright ship”, which now form part of the permanent collection of the museum.

Numerous articles devoted to the exhibition, and particularly to Zarfin, appeared in the national press. A major catalogue and a set of postcards have been produced by a Minsk publishing house.

- In the weekly review Kultura, produced in Minsk, issue 37, an article on Zarfin by Youri Abdouhramanov.

 In the review Mastatstva [Мастацтва : Art], produced in Minsk, issue 12, pp. 40-41, an article by Nadejda Oussova [Усова], deputy director of the Museum of Minsk.

Translated extract :

The beehive of all nations

[…] Three artists stand out from this artistic cohort — Zarfin, Lubitch and Guénine. Shraga Zarfin from Smilovichi and Ossip Lubitch from Grodno, less well known in France [than Soutine, Chagall and Zadkine], were the real revelation to emerge from this exhibition. Zarfin, having studied at Wilna, emigrated to Palestine, where he took classes at the Beçalel School of Fine Art. He then left for Berlin and arrived thereafter in Paris — once there, he destroyed all his early works, dissatisfied with their artistic quality. Zarfin worked as a stencil painter for the designer Olga Olbi and was himself an excellent designer. In Paris, he renewed his acquaintance with his fellow countryman, Soutine, who persuaded him to abandon everything in order to devote himself entirely to painting. Zarfin followed his friend’ s advice and developed his own style, which is immediately recognisable. If some viewers are less impressed by the sheer brightness of his paintings, others are greatly attracted by the childlike repetition of colours and by the lively tones of this artist’s canvases.

 In Kultura, no. 38 (translated extract) :

An encounter with the Paris School !

At last it arrived, the moment we had all been waiting for. On 20 September, a veritable treat was in store at the National Museum of Fine Art: the opening of an artistic event devoted to the “Painters of the Paris School originating from Belarus” (featuring works from the Belgazprombank collection, private collections, and the Museum’s own holdings).

Over one hundred works by painters of the Paris School — some well-known and others somewhat less familiar in this country, were being exhibited for the first time in Belarus. Works by our compatriots M. Chagall, Ch. Soutine, J. Zak, J. Balgley, P. Krémègne, N. Khadassévitch-Léger, S. Zarfin, M. Kikoïne, O. Lubitch, O. Zadkine. This exhibition was organised at the initiative of Belgazprombank, with the help and support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Belarus, the Belarusian embassies in France and the United Kingdom, and Mme Nadine Nieszawer (France), an expert on the Paris School.

The “Chetyre chetverti” publishing house (Belarus), in collaboration with the National Museum of Fine Art of this country, the National Commission of UNESCO of the Republic of Belarus and Belgazprombank, has just brought out a catalogue of the exhibition in Russian, Belarusian and French, with more than 90 reproductions, several photographs from archives, entries by V. Babaryko, N. Nieszawer, B. Krepak, V. Shastny, and a preface by V. Prokoptsov ; biographical notes by S. Prokopieva et N. Oussova..

Apart from the exhibition itself, the Museum set up in one of its rooms a “virtual” recreation of the Parisian café “La Rotonde”, whose walls were decorated with photographs from the period, where one could not just drink coffee but also sample the cakes that the “Parisian Belarusians” of the first quarter of the 20th century used to enjoy.

Those attending the preview included: the Vice-Minister for Culture of this country, Tadeusz Struzecki; the Executive Director of Belgazprombank, Viktor Babaryko; the president of the National Commission of UNESCO, Vladimir Shastny; the ambassador of the state of Israel in the Republic of Belarus, Josef Chagall; S. Zarfin’s grandson, Yves Dulac, who donated to the museum a fine landscape by his grandfather […].

In the same issue 38 of Kultura :

Extract from the article by Boris Krepak,

A quick sketch of the lives of the “Belarusian Parisians”

[…] More than 20 paintings by Sam Zarfin, a talented and highly original painter, were shown in the exhibition. Unfortunately, this artist is still relatively unknown in Belarus. Most of the works by him in the exhibition were landscapes and still life paintings from the 1950s, as well as one painting from 1940 — “Landscape with human subject”. Zarfin was one of the painters belonging to the “second” Paris School. In the 1930s, when he had already become a naturalised French citizen, he spent a great deal of time working not only on painting but also in the applied arts. However, once Chaïm Soutine, who was also from Smilovichi, saw Zarfin’s landscapes and still life paintings, he advised him to give up the applied arts and to devote himself completely to his true vocation — painting. […] The exhibition presents a fairly wide range of the motifs that were dear to Zarfin in the post-war period: cathedrals, the avenues, parks and rooftops of Paris, the banks of the Seine, Mont-Saint-Michel on the north-eastern coast of France, the port of Honfleur in Normandy, waterfalls in woodland, trees in the Cévennes, the tower of the fortified château of Brissac (11th century), several still life works.… All these paintings were the fruit of the artist’s dedicated work in Normandy, in the outskirts of Paris, on the coasts of the Mediterranean, in the district of Rosny-sous-Bois, the artist’s last home (for more details on the life of Zarfin, see the article by Youri Abdourahmanov in issue 37 of Kultura, 2012).

• Numerous Belarusian websites, as well as some Russian websites, mention the Minsk exhibition, often including illustrations of Zarfin’s paintings. See, for example :

Some paintings by Zarfin in the Minsk exhibition

(illustration from an article in the magazine Банк—Ноте [Bank-Note], n° 10, October 2012)

Yves Dulac in front of several paintings by Zarfin, Minsk, September 2012

(illustration from an article in the magazine Банк—Ноте [Bank-Note], n° 10, October 2012)

• During the exhibition, a designer, Mme Nadejda Koukharenko, commented on the designs for fabrics that Zarfin produced in the 1930s for the haute couture industry, in particular those commissioned by the firm run by Olga Olbi.

• A video of nearly 2 hours’ duration is devoted to the artists of the Paris School by Oleg Loukachevitch and Nadine Nieszawer :

École de Paris - Aleh Lukashevich with Nadine Nieszawer
Nadine Nieszawer

• Belgazprombank plans to produce a series of documentaries devoted to the painters represented in the collection which it has put together (Chagall, Soutine, Zarfin, Kikoine, Lubitch, Kremegne, Balgley, Guenine).

• A group of devotees plans to produce a documentary on Zarfin, with the help of Nadejda Oussova, deputy director of the Museum of Fine Art of Minsk, and with the collaboration of the director, Zoya Kotovitch, the creator of several films which have received various awards at international film festivals.

• Some research is undertaken on the Zarfin (or Tsarfin) family in Smilovitchi (his parents, Abram and Dreyza, were killed by the Nazis on 14 October 1941).


• The exhibition of painters of the Paris School in Minsk comes to an end on 14 January, and is due to go on tour to other towns in Belarus: Gomel, the second city of the country (500,000 inhabitants), then Vitebsk, the birthplace of Chagall, Brest, and Grodno.

• On the exhibition in Gomel, see:

• The review Kultura publishes an article by Youri Abdouhramanov devoted to Zarfin’s commentary on Soutine (originally published in an album on Soutine, by Waldemar Georges, 1959).

• On the occasion of Museum Night (18 May), the Museum in Minsk plans to show the two paintings by Zarfin that were donated during the exhibition.

• Discovery in the Zarfin archives of several sketchbooks which appear to date from 1940-1950.

• In Paris, Y. Abdouhramanov visits several private collections containing works by Zarfin (see some examples below).

Gouache and oil on paper, very small format (private collection)

Gouache and oil on paper, very small format (private collection)

Gouache and oil on paper, very small format (private collection)

Gouache and oil on paper, very small format (private collection)

Gouache and oil on paper, 33×24 cm (private collection)

Cathedral, oil on canvas (private collection)

Figures from the Bible, oil on canvas (private collection)

Village in the snow, oil on canvas (private collection)

Oil on canvas (private collection)

Turbulent sea, oil on canvas (private collection)

The Old Harbour at Honfleur, oil on canvas (private collection)

Building site, oil on canvas (private collection)

• In October-November 2013, several sequences due to feature in a future documentary on Zarfin (interviews, key places, paintings…) are shot in Paris and in Smilovitchi by Mme Zoya Kotovitch.

• In November, Mme Nadejda Oussova, deputy director of the Museum of Fine Art of Minsk, and Mme Svetlana Khassenevitch [Хасеневич], director of the little museum in Smilovitchi devoted to Soutine, visit Liliane and Georges Dulac in Paris.

Paris, November 2013, with Mme Svetlana Khassenevitch

(two small works by Zarfin to be given to the Smilovitchi Museum)

Paris, November 2013, with Mme Nadejda Oussova

• The Friends of Zarfin group persuades the Smilovitchi authorities to adopt the idea of a room devoted to Zarfin which could contain two or three original works, reproductions and documents, some of which have already been presented to the public; the preparation of this room is being undertaken by Mme Nadejda Koukharenko.

• The review Michpokha [Мишпоха] produced in Vitebsk (n° 32) publishes a major article by Youri Abdouhramanov on Zarfin, focusing mainly on his life: see

• November 2013. Oleg Loukachevitch and his collaborators prepare a 26-minute documentary on Zarfin. It consists of interviews, reproductions of paintings and documents, shots of Smilovitchi, and some scenes of reconstruction. This film, a shortened version of which can be seen here, is produced for Belarusian television:

(This film by Oleg Loukachevitch devoted to Zarfin is presented here by kind permission of the author. It was produced in 2013–14 in Minsk [where the majority of the reproduced paintings are located], Smilovitchi and Paris.)


• June 2014. Exhibition of paintings and designs for fabrics by Zarfin at Les Oréades gallery in Toulouse.

Invitation to the exhibition at Les Oréades gallery

Mont Saint-Michel, 65×50 cm, oil and gouache on paper

(from the exhibition at Les Oréades gallery)

• September-November 2014. The collection of works by artists of the Paris School originally exhibited in Minsk is shown in Vilnius, the place where several of these artists, including Soutine and Zarfin, studied at the art school run by the painter Ivan Troutnev (at the time, the town was known as Wilno). Here follows the presentation of this exhibition by the Museum of Fine Art of Lithuania:

Artists of the School of Paris of Belarusian origin

From “Belgazprombank”, museum and private collections


11th September–9th November 2014


We would like to bring to your attention the art-project “Artists of Paris School from Belarus. From the corporate collection of Belgazprombank, museum and private collections” which was declared by the Belarusian culture experts “the event of the year 2013”.

The organizers of the exhibition in the Vilnius Picture Gallery are OJSC “Belgazprombank”, the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus, the Lithuanian Art Museum and the Embassy of the Lithuanian Republic in the Republic of Belarus. The unique exposition which is demonstrated outside the country for the first time — is a concentrated collection of artists of Paris School (École de Paris) of the beginning of the 20th century who were born in Belarus and later became world-wide famous.

Three years ago there was not a single work of these artists who make the colour of the World Art. In 2011 Belgazprombank initiated the formation of collection of paintings which included the works of M. Chagall, C. Soutine, P. Krémègne, M. Kikoine, O. Lubitch, O. Zadkine, and S. Zarfin. The corporate collection is a basis of a global cultural project of Belgazprombank “Art Belarus” which develops continuous formation of Belarusian art in all its fullness and integrity.

Vilnius has a particular importance in the fate of many of artists who are presented at the exhibition. It was here, in I. Trutnev School of Art in Vilnius, that some of them, in particular, C. Soutine, P. Krémègne, S. Zarfin, L. Indenbaum, R.Genin, M. Kikoine spent early youth and learned the fundamentals of realistic painting and academic drawing. In Vilnius, at the beginning of the 20th century the artists got an idea of modern art and from here they left for Paris. Symbolically, that monument, probably, of the most famous student of the I. Trutnev School of Art, Chaïm Soutine, was created and installed in Montparnasse by the outstanding Lithuanian painter and sculptor Arbit Blatas. The artists from Eastern Europe gave the new wave in art — École de Paris — restraint and elegance, reach colours and extraordinary expressiveness.

In the contexts of stylistics, the collection runs the gamut of different styles of the 20th century: fauvism and cubism, suprematism and expressionism. The works of Belarusian artists are unique by the special outlook, combination of drama and melancholy, emotional coloring and strongly pronounced visual expression.

The exhibition gives an opportunity to the public not only to get acquainted with the original works of Belarusian masters of the Paris School but also helps to reveal the relationship between modern European art and artistic processes of Belarus and Lithuania.

Another presentation of this event can be seen on the website:

The Vilnius exhibition: the Zarfin room

• Creation of a support committee for the Soutine-Zarfin Museum of Smilovitchi: this body plans to organise an international conference devoted to the two painters in April 2015, with the possible help of a Russian foundation. Marc Rostellini, director of the Pinacothèque de Paris, has confirmed his attendance at this event.

• The little museum of Smilovitchi organises a competition of children’s drawings inspired by the works of Zarfin. Some of these are shown on its website:

• Mme Nadine Nieszawer announces the publication of a revised edition of her study of the painters of the Paris School that was originally published in 2000.

• Oleg Loukachevitch’s film on Zarfin, that was originally shown on the main channel of Belarusian television, is also made available to the Lithuanian public in October 2014, most notably at the fine art gallery in Vilnius. It is due to be dubbed into French in 2015.

• 21 October 2014, Artcurial sale in Paris: three canvases by Zarfin are put up for sale (the catalogue can be seen on the website: lot nos. 173-176):

Z.651. Flowers and girls, 81x60 cm.

Z.791. Landscape, 81x60 cm.

Z.888. Glade, 81x60cm.