Upon her grandfather’s death in 1992, Elizabeth Rynecki was helping her family clear his belongings in his Northern California home when she came upon typed pages of a journal detailing his experience as a Jew living in Warsaw under Nazi occupation. Scanning through the pages she found a sentence that changed her life: If only for my granddaughter, Elizabeth, to know the truth, and not be afraid of it. Rynecki was struck with a yearning to explore her family’s past and understand what her grandfather was writing about more deeply.
Upon further exploration, Rynecki discovered that it wasn’t just her grandfather’s story, but his father’s story that she was uncovering as well. Spanning three decades of Elizabeth’s life, as well as three generations of her family, Chasing Portraits: A Great-Granddaughter’s Quest for Her Lost Art Legacy is a touching memoir and a compelling history of the richness of one man’s art, the devastation of war, and one woman’s unexpected path to healing.
Moshe Rynecki’s work is providing an on-going search for the family, to date a small portion of his legacy has been found – and using her grandfather’s journal as a guide Rynecki has sought out to reclaim his legacy from the ashes of history.
Elizabeth Rynecki is the great-granddaughter of the Polish-Jewish artist, Moshe Rynecki (1881-1943). In 1999, Elizabeth designed the original "Moshe Rynecki: Portrait of a Life in Art" website. Today she continually updates it to keep it current regarding academic research, educational resources, and tracking lost Rynecki paintings. She lives in Oakland, California with her family.
The memoir of one woman's emotional quest to find the art of her Polish-Jewish great-grandfather, lost during World War II.