The Sculptor Chana Orloff

Chana Orloff is one of the outstanding sculptors of the 20th century. She worked and gained her international fame in Paris. Her home in Paris was a kind of an Israeli colony, a gathering place for politicians, celebrities and art lovers from Israel who came to enjoy her hospitality.

Chana was born in 1888 in a small town in the Ukraine, to parents who were strong advocates of Zionism and the Hebrew culture. In 1904, at the age of 16, she immigrated to the Land of Israel with her family who went to live in the Newe Zedek quarter of Jaffa. Her father worked in the citrus orchards of Petah Tiqva while Chana worked as a dressmaker.

Six years later,in 1910, Chana left for Paris, where she met the poet Ary Justman and married him in 1916. Her husband, who was a friend of many of the Jewish artists in Paris at that time, introduced her to Modigliani, Soutine, Pascin, Lipchitz, Chagall and others, and they became her friends. One day, on a visit to a sculptor's workshop, she picked up a piece of clay, began to play with it, and the sculptor couldn't believe his own eyes as he witnessed the result. With support from her friends the artists, her exciting career as a sculptor took off.

During WW-II Chana was pursued by the Nazis but was saved by her friends and found refuge in Switzerland. On her return to Paris after the liberation she found her studio in ruins and her sculptures there destroyed. Following Israel's independence, she began spending an increasing amount of time in Tel Aviv. She died in Tel Aviv while her friends and admirers around the world were celebrating her 80th birthday.

Her first sculptures were in the cubist style which had then made its appearance on the artistic scene. Over the years, she developed her own unique style with its human warmth and often with a touch of humor. Her personal style is characterized by full, flowing, rounded figures. Her statues of mothers are of full-bodied, graceful women; her statues of children exhibit charm and softness; and her statues of human beings, birds and other animals are full of vitality and a love of man and nature.

Chana created her statues from stone, marble, bronze and above all wood. For dozens of years she took part in the salons and major exhibitions of Paris and was very successful in Europe and the USA. Towards the end of her career, her style changed, as her line sharpened and her works became full of movement and action.

Chana's monuments in Israel include: a bronze monument at Ramat Gan showing the old British lion grappling unsuccessfully with a young lion, in memory of Dov Gruner and three of his comrades who took part in an unsuccessful raid on the British police station in Ramat Gan (Dov's comrades were killed and he was hanged in April 1947); "Wounded Bird" at Kibbutz Bet Oren in memory of three of the Jewish parachutists who operated beyond Nazi lines in WW-II; "Motherhood" at Kibbutz En Gedi in memory of Chana Tuchman who had fallen in the War of Independence; "Eagles" at Kibbutz Revivim in memory of Israel's fallen soldiers, and "Peace" in Jerusalem.

Among Chana's sculpted portraits are those of Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and future Prime Minister Levi Eshkol; actress Hanna Rovina, the architects Pierre Chareau, and Auguste Perret; painters Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, and Per Krohg; and the poets Hayyim Nahman Bialik, and Pierre Mac Orlan.

The stamp was issued in 1974, one of three dedicated to painting and sculpture art. The previous stamp (with the Hebrew article) was issued in 1984; it features Orloff's monument to Dov Gruner.