All posts tagged: Yousuf Karsh

Yosuf Karsh: An Armenian Refugee’s Pursuit of Greatness in Portraiture

Born in Armenia in 1908 to Christian Armenian parents, Karsh’s early childhood was defined by the atrocities committed by Turkey against the Armenian population at the start of the twentieth century. His father was forced into hiding to avoid arrest and, in 1921 the Karsh family were able to escape to Syria, accompanied by a donkey and no belongings. The course of Karsh’s life was changed when his uncle, George Nakash, wrote to the family from Canada asking for help in his photography studio. Karsh was sent on the 29-day trip from Beirut to Halifax in the second-class deck to join his uncle in Sherbrooke, Québec. His uncle recognised that the boy had a natural talent for photography and sent him to join his friend and fellow portrait photographer, John H. Garo, in Boston. Garo encouraged Karsh to attend evening art classes where he studied the Old Masters, specifically Rembrandt and Velázquez, and learnt to utilise composition and lighting to portray a sitter to their best advantage. In 1931 Karsh left Boston for Ottawa, with the …


BJP Staff