Vázlatok a Hadifogságból. Sketches From the Prison of War. Piestschanka.
14 mounted plates in pencil, ink and colour wash, 2 of which are stuck to the outsides of the portfolio's protective boards with cloth ties. Various sizes, but mostly ca. 170 x 130 mm. Signed and captioned in English and Hungarian.
Rare survival of a collection of sketches from the Russian POW camp in Peschanka, Siberia, all executed by an evidently accomplished, otherwise undocumented Hungarian artist (and soldier in the Austro-Hungarian army) who captured the conditions in and around the camp during the later years of the First World War. Thám's caricature-like style is marked by clear, precise outlines reminiscent of the contemporaneous work of Olaf Gulbransson and Eduard Thöny. The two larger sketches on the cover boards (measuring ca. 170 x 220 mm) show self-portraits of the artist, at work at oil paintings (one a landscape, the other a nude). The leaves within show prisoners climbing the bunk bed or resting in their crowded cots, marching through a snowed-in camp carrying heavy buckets, playing chess, etc.; some are captioned "Coming from the American Y.M.C.A. Kitchen", "The Red Cross library", or even show ladies in fur coats with an officer "at the exhibition", while a few others have Easter Greetings themes.
Peschanka is near Chita in the Transbaikalia region, on the Trans-Siberian Railway, 6035 kilometres from Moscow. While during the Great War conditions in the POW camps on the whole were vastly superior to those during WWII, thanks to the efforts of the Red Cross and inspectors from neutral countries, the situation in the Siberian camps was notoriously poor, and as many as a quarter of the 2.1 million Austro-Hungarian soldiers whom Russia held as prisoners of war did not survive.
Browned due to paper, with occasional edge flaws, but well preserved.