Henri Epstein’s father was a bookshop owner who died when he was three. His mother raised him and encouraged his encouraged his precocious interest in painting. He studied first at the Jakub Kacenbogen Drawing School in Lodz, then at the Fine Art Academy in Munich until the age of nineteen. In 1912 he first visited Paris, after which time he served in the Polish army.
In 1913 he returned to Paris and became a member of La Ruche until 1938, taking courses at La Grande Chaumiere Academy. His initially fauvist style evolved later towards expressionism.
In 1921, Epstein illustrated Gustave Coquiot’s work "Vagabondages" (Ollendorff) and in 1926 the work "Les Rois du Maquis" by Pierre Bonardi (André Delpeuch). He most probably participated in the inaugural edition of the jewish art review Makhmadim, published first by La Ruche and then by La Renaissance, for which he wrote articles in yiddish. Epstein bought a farm near Épernon which served both as an atelier and a refuge during the Occupation.
On 23 February 1944, he was arrested in Epernon by three Gestapo agents. Despite the efforts of his friends and his wife (the painter George Dorignac’s daughter) he was interned in Drancy on 24 February 1944 and deported on 7 March 1944 on convoy n°69. He was assassinated in Auschwitz.
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