Author: Arbitblatas Neemija, 1908 - 1999

Created: 1929 m. 

Material / technique: oil on canvas.

Dimensions: 100.00 x 79.50 cm.

Signature: VD: N. Arbitblat/ Paris 1929.

Although ARBIT BLATAS (1908–1999) did not study at Kaunas Art School, he brought new ideas to the Kaunas art scene. He never received a state scholarship, but studied art in Paris at his own expense at the Académie Julian and the Académie de la Grande Chaumičre, and so enjoyed much more freedom in his career. Following the Paris fashion, Blatas opened the first private art gallery in Kaunas,bringing the cultural life of the interim capital closer to the Western way of life. In 1932 and 1933, he put on exhibitions of works by young artists, both Lithuanians and other nationalities (mostly Jewish). He had to close the gallery due to a short age of money, and left for Paris.

Reference: "Kaunas-Vilnius 1918-1945”, The Art collection of the law firm Ellex Valiunas. Compilars D. Barcytė, dr. I. Burbaitė. Vilnius, 2021, P. 180. 

The story of Salome (Matthew 14, 6–12; Mark 6, 17–29) reveals differences in the rules of marriage between Judaism and Christianity. After the death of her husband Philip, Herodias married his brother Herod. Levirate marriage is not prohibited in the Old Testament: ‘If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfil the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel’ (Deuteronomy 25, 5–6). When John the Baptist reprimanded Herod, saying ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife’ (Mark 6:18), Herodias became angry and found a way to have him killed by using the charms of her daughter Salome. On Herod’s birthday, Salome danced an impressive dance for him, and, urged by her mother, asked for the head of John the Baptist in return.  The story of Salome was a popular subject in art in the 15th century. Oscar Wilde’s play was published in 1891. Richard Strauss composed music for the eponymous opera in 1905. And a film was made in 1923. The story of Salome came to life in Paris in 1913 in a ballet by Sergei Diaghilev. The ballet was put on again in Paris in 1928, and Salome made her way into art once more in 1929 after Diaghilev’s death when Arbit Blatas, who was living in Paris, painted his Salome. She looks more like an actress on the stage than a biblical character. It is likely to be the famous Kharkov-born dancer Ida Rubinstein, who performed the leading role in Diaghilev’s ballet (Vilma Gradinskaitė).

Photo: Letter from Arbit Blato to E. Armoška.

Published: Tumėnienė, N. (2008). „16th-21st centuries of Lithuanian art exposure: Exhibition of Edmundas Armoška's art collection“ (p. 43). Vilnius: Lithuanian Art Museum; Litvak art in private Lithuanian collections. Gradinskaitė, V. (2015). Vilnius: Lewben Art Foundation, Lithuanian Diaspora Art Foundation, VšĮ „Šiaurės Jeruzalė“, p. 46-47; "Kaunas-Vilnius 1918-1945”, The Art collection of the law firm Ellex Valiunas. Compilars D. Barcytė, dr. I. Burbaitė. Vilnius, 2021, P. 181.