Josef Karpf was born in what became southeastern Poland on 21 March 1900 . Despite his early passion for art, studying at night school in Vienna, Karpf graduated in economics after the early death of his father, whilst also continuing his art. Following the outbreak of war in 1939, Karpf was sent to labour camps in Siberia, but survived, thanks to his draughtsmanship, which impressed his captors. After the war, Karpf met Natalia Weissman, an acclaimed concert pianist. Natalia had survived Płaszów concentration camp after Amon Goeth, the commandant, ordered her to play for his birthday. She was subsequently deported to Auschwitz with her sister, Helena, but also survived. Karpf was posted to the Polish embassy in London, where he and Natalia sought asylum in 1950. Although Karpf had to earn a living through his printing business run in partnership with fellow emigre, Rafael Scharf (1914-2003), one of the founders of the publication Jewish Quarterly, he nevertheless continued to create art throughout his life in Britain. Josef Karpf died in London, England on 1 December 1993.