In 1939, the year World War II broke out, Arthur Szyk, after seven years of labor, completed his illuminated Haggadah. it was published a year later in an edition of 250 copies on vellum, half to be distributed in the United Kingdom, half in the United States. Cecil Roth, who edited the publication, writes in his Introduction:
The Szyk Haggadah is more than a work of simple beauty; it is also, as all great works of illustration must be, a commentary. In Szyk's portrayal of the Four Sons, Roth notes:
Where Szyk turned to the medieval scribe for his artistic inspiration, Ben Shahn absorbed it from contemporary America. Of his Haggadah for Passover, Boston, 1965, Shahn writes:
The Hebrew title page and facing menorah frontispiece are an aesthetic delight. The blessing beneath the menorah, "Blessed art thou, O, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who hast kept us in life, and enabled us to reach this time and season," is appropriate to a Jew in the post-Holocaust world.
For Shahn the celebration of Passover is memory. For the American Israeli calligrapher-artist David Moss, Passover is a spiritual experience. For him "Next year in Jerusalem" is a religious mandate, as is his creation of a bibliographic Haggadah. As Szyk's Haggadah is in the tradition of its illuminated medieval predecessors, as Shahn drew on contemporary artistic idiom, so Moss's Haggadah is most authentically Jewish in its eclectic nature. The classical Hebrew book is more an anthology to which the author adds his mite, than a work of original creativity. Though Moss is marvelously inventive in his illuminated pages, he has consciously striven to have them reflect the variety of artistic expressions of those before him who had made Hebrew manuscripts and books things of beauty, as he accomplished in his own creative effort. His Haggadah is a splendid addition to the bibliophilic Hebrew book, the most authentically Jewish art form.
Sources: Abraham J. Karp, From the Ends of the Earth: Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress, (DC: Library of Congress, 1991).