Seven Portraits: Surviving the Holocaust

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Stuart is one of seven leading artists commissioned by HRH The Prince of Wales to paint seven portraits of Holocaust Survivors to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27.
The paintings will become part of the Royal Collection and will be displayed in The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace from January 27, 2022 before heading to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. A BBC documentary has also been made about the creation of the exhibition and the journey the painters and sitters went on in the process of the project.
HRH The Prince of Wales became Patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust in 2015, taking over from HM The Queen.
Last year, Stuart was introduced to Ruzena 'Rachel' Levy who he spent the following months painting from his studio in Suffolk.
Born in modern-day Ukraine in 1930, Rachel was interned in Auschwitz, Birenboul and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps in Germany, 1944-45. She was finally liberated by British soldiers in 1945 aged just 15 years old.
After Stuart's first, brief sitting with Rachel during lockdown he painted her portrait from photographs while listening to her recorded history, which is available on Imperial War Museum’s website here.
In 2019, along with six other survivors, Rachel was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s birthday honours for services to Holocaust education and awareness.
The exhibition, Seven Portraits: Surviving the Holocaust, runs from Thursday, January 27th until Sunday, February 13th 2022 at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace.
It then goes on display at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh between Thursday, March 17th and Monday, June 6th 2022.
The BBC documentary, Survivors: Portraits of the Holocaust, featuring Stuart and Rachel will air on BBC2 on Thursday, January 27th 2022 at 9pm.
Stuart will also be interviewed on The Today programme on BBC Radio 4 on the morning of Thursday, January 27th 2022.
HRH The Prince of Wales said: “As the number of Holocaust survivors sadly, but inevitably, declines, my abiding hope is that this special collection will act as a further guiding light for our society, reminding us not only of history’s darkest days, but of humanity’s interconnectedness as we strive to create a better world for our children, grandchildren and generations as yet unborn; one where hope is victorious over despair and love triumphs over hate.”
The BBC documentary, Survivors: Portraits of the Holocaust, follows the creation of the portraits and will tell the stories of the seven survivors. Now in their 90s, they were all children in Nazi camps and went on to make their lives in the U.K. The program will also follow the artists as they reflect on their time getting to know the survivors they have painted.
“Throughout the programme, audiences will hear the testimonies of the remarkable men and women who witnessed one of the greatest atrocities in human history, and will meet the artists tasked with creating portraits that represent their pain and loss, as well as their dignity, light and hope,” the BBC said in a statement. “The portraits will stand as a lasting reminder of horrors which will one day be lost to living memory.”
The seven sitters and artists are:
Helen Aronson painted by Paul Benney
Lily Ebert painted by Ishbel Myerscough
Manfred Goldberg painted by Clara Drummond
Arek Hersh painted by Massimiliano Pironti
Anita Lasker Wallfisch painted by Peter Kuhfeld
Rachel Levy painted by Stuart Pearson Wright
Zigi Shipper painted by Jenny Saville
The Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock, described the initiative as "incredible."
"These Holocaust survivors endured the very worst. They were rounded up into ghettos, sent to concentration camps and enslaved as forced labourers," she said. "To survive the concentration and death camps and 77 years later see their portraits displayed in Buckingham Palace is very special indeed, and a poignant and fitting testament to their lasting contribution to this country." Holocaust Memorial Day is marked in the U.K on January 27 each year, which is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.