Samuel Hirszenberg was one of the first artists to expose the plight of his fellow Jews in Russian-dominated Poland during the early years of the twentieth century. By the time he exhibited The Black Banner in the 1906 Salon of the Société des Artistes, he was established as a frequent participant in Paris-based exhibitions. Painted in 1905, The Black Banner evokes the intensified devastation felt by victims of pogroms at this time. Two terrified faces stare out at us; the one on the left may be the artist's self-portrait. It has been suggested that the black banner covering the coffin is Hirszenberg's means of decrying the Black Hundreds, the czarist-endorsed antisemetic bands who were so destructive during the pogroms of 1905-1906.