Angelica Schatz

Some of the historic documents that are kept in our Archives hide fascinating personal stories. One such story is that of Angelica Schatz, the lost daughter of Boris Schatz.
The life story of Boris Schatz, one of the most celebrated artists of Israel, is like an open book to the Israeli art lover, and the details of his life are known to many. But a strange email that landed one day in the inbox of Dan Pe'er, a prominent media personality in Israel, prompted him to take on a long investigation and led him to uncover an unknown chapter in the life of the artist. "One day", Pe'er told Haaretz, "I received an email from the curator of the Jewish Museum in Prague, asking me if I knew anything about a drawing by Angelica Meirson Schatz". This email drew Pe'er, the step-grandson of Angelica, into a journey through a less traveled road in the Schatz family saga, and led him to uncover the missing link in the life of Boris Schatz, the daughter everyone thought he had left behind.
 Angelica Schatz: "Turkish Bath" (Wikipedia)Before immigrating to Israel, Schatz fell in love with Jenia, also an artist, and the two married in 1889. A few years later they had a daughter, Angelika. "Now my sun has shined, my soul has lived, my heart has opened. As a man parched, I breathed in the warm air that enveloped me. I awoke to the feeling of love, I worked, studied, and painted", wrote Schatz in his diary after the birth of his daughter. But the family idyll didn't last long, and the first twist in the intricate life story of Angelica occurred when, a few years later, the couple separated after Jenia had had an affair. "Bad luck separated us when you were just a toddler. With great pain I decided to uproot you from my heart and start my life anew", wrote Schatz after his wife and child left. He indeed started a new chapter in his life when he immigrated to Palestine and remarried. The two children he bore in Israel – Bezalel and Zahara- also became important artists. But, as Peer's research uncovered, Schatz never forgot his first born.
Boris Schatz and his second wifeLife may have separated Angelica and Schatz, but it also set them on similar trails. Like Schatz, Angelica became a painter, and gained recognition as an artist during the thirties in France and Bulgaria. And like Schatz, she also immigrated to Israel in 1948. Pe'er learned that during all these years, the father and daughter stayed in touch by letter. The letters that Peer found in the Central Zionist Archives tell of a warm, loving relationship between the two. Apart from the letters that helped Pe'er piece together the complex life story of his great grandmother, he also uncovered around 20 previously unknown paintings by Angelica. These paintings are now exhibited in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, in an exhibition that opened on January 3rd. The correspondence between the father and daughter, as well as the research done by Pe'er, formed the basis of a new book about Angelica, "Lost Daughter", written by Doron Lurie, senior restorer in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, where he uncovers the human drama that has been hiding deep within the storage rooms of the CZA for years.