Léopold Gottlieb

1883 1934
 (Галичина) (Ukraine) 1883 /   (France) 1934

The parents of Leopold Gottlieb, merchants, encouraged their son to become an artist, hoping he will follow the path of his elder brother, Mauricy Gottlieb, painter prematurely dead at the age of 23. 

Between 1896 and 1902 Leopold Gottlieb studies painting at the Academy of Fine Arts of Krakow with Jacek Malczewski. At the end of his curriculum, he is the first prize winner of painting and earns a scholarship to leave and work abroad. In 1903, Gottlieb goes to Munich to continue his studies with A. Azbe and at the same time earns a living out of portraying people.

In 1905, at the initiative of the Group of Five which will only exist for a year, he holds exhibitions with his friends, notably Witold Wojtkiewicz, in Poland and abroad. His first stay in Paris would date back to 1899.

In 1906, he leaves for a year to teach painting at the Academy of Fine Arts of Bezadel in Jerusalem. Back in Paris, he marries a young scholar doctor fond of Jewish culture and participates in the artistic life of Montparnasse. Gottlieb bonds with Pascin, Diego Rivera, André Salmon, Mela Muter and Elie Nadelman. Famous for his portraits, he has his friends sit for him and receives portrait orders notably from Doctor Gustave Bohn and Henri Bergson. Regularly, he goes back to Poland where he participates in Formist groups and in the Rhythm movement.

In 1914 and following an argument with the painter Moses Kisling, Leopold Gottlieb fights in a duel fight at the Parc des Princes in west-Paris. For an hour, the opponents inflict to each other serious waves of assaults with their sabres, when suddenly, in a quick backhand, Gottlied lightly cuts the nose of his enemy. The anecdote is heard all over Montparnasse and will appear in the press.

From 1913, Gottlieb participates in debates in favour of the Polish independence held by the TAP (the Association of Polish Artists in Paris founded in 1910 by the sculptor Stanislaw Ostrowski, born in Warsaw in 1879). The meetings take place in Montparnasse, at the 32 Rue Denfert Rochereau and count among its members: Henry Hayden, Eugène Zak and Mela Muter. Gottlieb also takes part in the exercises of a paramilitary group called The Shooter (“le Tireur”) that only a few people know the existence of. He openly joins in the Polish patriotism and will enrol with the Marshal Pilsudski. During the First World War, he is in Poland and paints scenes of the life of a soldier, quickly drawn live on the battle field and touched up and reworked after the war in a collection of lithographies published on the year of his death.

In 1919, Gottlieb teaches at the academy of arts of Zakopane in the Tetras (Occidental Carpates, at the border between Tcheckoslovakia and Poland). He gets back to Paris in the 20’s. Stricken by a lever disease, he dies at the age of fifty-four.

His wife will be deported in April 1943.

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