A childhood in Russia

Ossip Zadkine was born on 4th July 1890 in Vitebsk, today in Belarus.

His father, Ephime Zadkine, taught Greek and Latin at the seminary in Smolensk. This man of letters from a Jewish family had converted to the orthodox religion in order to marry Sophie Lester, the descendant of a Scottish family of boat builders, who had emigrated to Russia in the seventeenth century. Brought up “far removed from religious concerns” the young Ossip spent his childhood between the wooden house in Smolensk, the estate of his maternal uncle, on the banks of the Dvina River, and the far depths of the pine forests. The necessity to “to draw everything at all times” soon made itself felt. The discovery of a block of clay in the garden aroused in the twelve-year-old child a passion for modelling – the first sculpting studio was improvised in a corner of his father's library.