Felix Nussbaum. "The Refugee, 1939"

The Refugee, 1939

A man sits slumped in a chair, his head buried in his hands in a gesture of utter despair. Next to him rests a walking stick and a bundle of belongings. A long table, bare except for a globe, dominates the room, which resembles a jail cell. Through an arched doorway, bare trees can be seen; a flock of ravens circle overhead.

The painting is a reflection of Nussbaum’s fear and desperation on the eve of the Second World War. As Germany’s threatening shadow sweeps across Europe, the artist is left with no escape route. The desolation of the room signifies his helplessness, while the bleak view in the distance reflects grim reality – for the Jew, there is no refuge.

Felix Nussbaum

The Refugee, 1939

Oil on canvas
61 x 76 cm
Yad Vashem Art Collection