More self-promotion . . . from September 15th a solo exhibit will open at the LJG Gallery* with three of my recent projects. Sarra, of course (read more here and here,) and also Les Contes de Camondo, a series I did on the Turkish-Parisian family who left us the stunning Musée Nissim de Camondo in Paris. The third project is about my grandfather Eli’s youth in Amsterdam’s poverty-stricken Jewish Quarter, around the year 1900.
Les Contes de Camondo
In the mid-nineteenth century, the Turkish-Jewish Camondo family of bankers settled in Paris where they became avid art collectors. One of the sons, Moïse, married and had two children, but within years his wife left him. So Moïse raised the little ones by himself, in the beautiful house by the Parc Monceau that he had built around his ever-growing collection. He worshipped his son Nissim, and feared the worst when the young man enlisted for the French air force during WWI. On September 5th 1917 his nightmare became reality. Moïse was inconsolable and retired from work and public life. He died in 1935, leaving his entire art collection and his house to the French state on condition that the house would be a museum in memory of his son. His daughter, her husband and their two children were murdered in Auschwitz.
Rudolf Lucieer is Moïse de Camondo, David Lucieer is Nissim.
Little Boy Eli
The story of my grandfather Eli de Vries (1890-1969).
All I know about his youth, in Amsterdam’s Jewish Quarter, is that he had to go to work at the age of six. No idea what he did – running errands probably for the neighborhood shopkeepers. Maybe he helped the local photographer? Was he a delivery boy? Did he pick up dirty laundry? I hope he had some time to play with his brothers and sisters – he had two older halfsisters from his mother’s first marriage, and four brothers and a sister, all younger. Of all eight only Eli and his brother David, four years his junior, survived the Holocaust. First they lived in a street called the Dijkstraat, later they moved to a canal called the Rechtboomsloot. The house on Dijkstraat no longer exists, the one on the canal looks glorious now. But when they lived there, all ten of them, it must have been a disaster. I’m sure they didn’t have the entire house to themselves.
Life treated Eli well. He had three daughters, three grandchildren, and together with David he ran a successful Dutch-American business. He moved to New York and held office at the Chrysler Building.
This is my hommage to him. To him, and to all the desperately poor little Amsterdam boys who, against all odds, made it possible for little Amsterdam girls to grow up in peace and comfort only sixty years later.
Amos Hartogs is my grandfather Eli. He is eight years old.
*The gallery of the LJG synagogue, Zuidelijke Wandelweg 41, Amsterdam. By appointment only, if you want to go there call them on 020-5400120 or drop us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.