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Saul Yaffie was born in Blythswood, Glasgow on 29th April 1898 to Kate Yaffie (née Karkinofski) and Bernard Yaffie, a master tailor.
Kate and Bernard Yaffie fled persecution in Russia during a wave of anti-Jewish pogroms triggered by the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881. This period saw the introduction of harsh restrictions on Jews in Russia, and another more violent series of pogroms from 1903 to 1908.
Saul, whose father had been naturalised as a British citizen by the time he was three, would have spent the early years of his childhood in the Gorbals, where a Bernard Yaffie is recorded as living at Abbortsford Place. The Gorbals was home to a large proportion of Glasgow's immigrants at the time, as well as being the main settlement area of Scotland's Jewish community.
As Jewish families rose in socio-economic class, there was a movement to more affluent areas of Glasgow areas such as Pollokshields and Garnethill. The Yaffies too moved to a more salubrious address at Sinclair Drive, Cathcart, as Bernard's tailoring business prospered.
Saul is recorded as attending day classes in drawing and painting, modelling, and life drawing at The Glasgow School of Art from 1912 to 1919. In 1914-15 he shared the Landscape prize in the Glasgow School of Art Vacation Sketching Scheme with a Mr Albert Rae. He was also awarded a Minor Travelling Bursary of £12 and 10 shillings. In 1915-16 he received a Diploma for Drawing and Painting.
He interrupted his studies in 1917/18, probably due to military conscription, to serve in the King's Own Scottish Borderers in the First World War, reaching the rank of corporal. Prior to conscription he is recorded in the GSA's student registers of 1916 as being engaged in munitions work. He was taking Life day classes in 1916, then in 1918-19 he returned to do drawing and painting day classes.
In the 1920s his father's business suffered greatly due to the post-war economic depression, and the family emigrated to Canada. Saul remained in Europe, relocating to Paris where he continued with his artistic practice. He and his wife, Estusia, returned to the UK before the Second World War to escape persecution, and settled in Manchester.
They returned to France after the war. Saul Yaffie is listed in the School's World War One Roll of Honour. He later went by the name Paul Jeffay, and much of his work is signed under this name.
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Sources: the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre.