Ben Uri collection

Head of Joseph Leftwich

Artist information

Name Max Sokol (1895-1973)

Born Warsaw, Poland

Died London, England

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Painter and sculptor Max Sokol was born in Germany in 1895. Forced to flee during the Nazi era, he immigrated to Britain, where he settled in North West London – ‘Finchleystrasse’ and became a member of the Free German League of Culture (Freier Deutscher Kulturbund, FDKB), founded in 1939 at the Downshire Hill home of fellow émigré Fred Uhlman, and headed by Oskar Kokoschka. Sokol exhibited a bronze ‘Reclining Nude’ in the exhibition of 20th Century German Art, held 7-31 July 1938 at New Burlington Galleries, 5 Burlington Gardens, W1. His work was also included in the 1943 ‘Artists Aid Jewry’ exhibition held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery.

Object Details

Object type sculpture

Medium plaster

Materials and techniques plaster (medium)

Dimensions 43 x 23.5 x 24 cm

Acquisition gift

Accession number 1987-376

Display status not on display

Jewish writer, critic and Yiddish translator Joseph Leftwich (1892–1983) was one of the founding ‘Whitechapel Boys’. Born Joseph Lefkowich to Polish-Jewish parents in Holland, he was raised in Germany until the age of seven when the family emigrated to Whitechapel. Leftwich initially worked as a furrier, afterwards writing for the Yiddish daily, Di Tsayt, and becoming a founding member of the Whitechapel writers group, which included Isaac Rosenberg, John Rodker and Clare Winsten’s future husband, Simy Weinstein. Leftwich’s 1911 diary (Tower Hamlets Local History Library) is the foremost document on the history of the Whitechapel Boys, now best-known for the artists David Bomberg and Mark Gertler.

Leftwich was closely associated with the Ben Uri for many years. Sokol served on the arts committee during the 1950s and it is likely that this portrait was carried out during this period.

Selected exhibition history

1945 Exhibition of Portraits by Contemporary Jewish Artists

1951 Festival of Britain, Anglo-Jewish Exhibition 1851-1951

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© Max Sokol estate