Monday 11 December 2023

Isaac Israëls -part 1

The son of Jozef Israëls, one of the most respected painters of the Hague School, and Aleida Schaap, Isaac Israëls displayed precocious artistic talent from an early age. Between 1880 and 1882 he studied at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, where he met George Hendrik Breitner who was to become a lifelong friend. In 1881, when he was 16, he sold a painting, Bugle Practice, even before it was finished to the artist and collector Hendrik Willem Message. Two portraits he made in the same year of his grandmother and a family friend, Nannette Enthoven attest to the technical ability he had attained by that age. Starting in 1878, Israëls made annual visits to the Salon des Artistes Français with his father and in 1882 made his debut there with Military Burial. In the 1885 Salon he received an honourable mention for his Transport of Colonial Soldiers. At this time he was reading Émile Zola, as was Breitner, and following his triumph at the Salon he spent a year travelling in the Belgian mining districts and elsewhere.

Beginning 1886, Israëls lived in Amsterdam and registered with Breitner at the Royal Academy of Visual Arts to complete his schooling. Both of them, however, quickly abandoned the academy for the more progressive circle of the Tachibers, an influential group of writers and artists of the time. This was a group that insisted style must reflect content and that emotionally charged subjects can only be represented by an equally intense technique. Influenced by this philosophy, Israëls became a painter of the streets, cafes, and cabarets of Amsterdam. At this time he met the Dutch engraver and painter Willen de Zwart who also became a lifelong friend.

He often spent his summers with his father in the Dutch seaside resort of Scheverningen near The Hague. Guests included Édouard Meat an Max Liebermann. Interested by the changing light of sun and sea, he painted many colourful seaside scenes.

Towards the end of the century, Israëls was introduced by his childhood friend and portrait painter Thérèse Schwartze to the Amsterdam fashion house Hirsch & Cie at the Leidseplein. Israëls portrayed the whole range of the world of haute couture, from seamstress to wealthy client, gaining access even to the fitting-rooms.

Israëls moved to Paris in 1904, establishing his studio in Montmartre and just yards away from the studio of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec whom he admired, as he also did Edgar Degas. As in Amsterdam, he painted the Parisian specific motifs: the public parks, cafes, cabarets and bistros, as well as such subjects as fairgrounds and circus acrobats. Likewise he sought out the fashion houses Paquin and Drecoll to continue his studies of the world of fashion. However, he only exhibited once in this period, in 1909.

At the outbreak of the First World War he was living in London, where he found new subjects in horse-riding at Rotten Row and in ballerinas and boxers. He returned to Holland for the duration of the war, living alternately in The Hague, Amsterdam and Scheveningen, where he worked primarily as a portrait painter. Amongst his sitters was Magaretha Gertrud Zelle, better known as Mata Hari, executed as a spy in France in 1917.

Following the war, Israëls visited Paris, Copenhagen, Stockholm and London. He spent the years 1921 to 1922 travelling in India and the Dutch East Indies, sketching and painting the vibrant life of South East Asia and notably the gamelan players of Bali. On his return, he settled in The Hague in his deceased parents' home, where he remained for the rest of his life, nevertheless making regular trips abroad to London, Italy and the French Riviera.

At the age of 63, he won a Gold Medal at the 1928 Olympic Games for his painting Red Rider, an art competition then being part of the games.

He died in The Hague on 7 October 1934, aged 69, as a result of a street accident a few days before. His partner at that time was Sophie de Vries.

This is part 1 of an 11-part series on the works of Isaac Israëls:

1880 The Fencing Lesson
oil on panel 46.5 x 68.3 cm
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands

1880-81 Procession in the Old Catholic Church in The Hague
oil on panel size not given
Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrcht, Netherlands

1880-81 Procession in the Old Catholic Church in The Hague

1881 Preparing for the ride, the Hague
oil on panel 60.5 x 35 cm

1881 Procession in the Old Catholic Church in The Hague
 oil on panel 35 x 26.5 cm
Rijksmueum, Amsterdam

1882 At the Koningsbrug, Rotterdam
oil on panel 55.5 x 86 cm
Private Collection

1882 Military Funeral
oil on canvas 167.5 x 302 cm
Kunstmuseum, The Hague

1882 Military Funeral

1882 Portrait of injured KNIL Soldier Kees Pop
oil on board 37 x 23 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

1883-84 Transport of Colonial Soldiers
oil on canvas 160 x 300 cm
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo

1883-84 Transport of Colonial Soldiers

1883-84 Transport of Colonial Soldiers

c1883 Farewell to the Colonials in Rotterdam
preliminary study for the painting
 sepia ink on paper 15.3 x 12.3 cm
Centraal Museum, Utrecht

c1885-1920 In the sewing atelier
oil paint 71.5 x 52.5 cm
Stichting P. en N. de Boer, Amsterdam

1886 The Coffee Sorters
oil on canvas 78 x 100 cm
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

c1886-1904 A Man with Three Girls on a Bench in the Oosterpark in Amsterdam
watercolour on paper 44.8 x 30.2 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

after 1887 A view of the Oudebrugsteeg and the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam
charcoal on paper 47 x 58.5 cm

1887-1905 Street Scene in Amsterdam
pastel on cardboard 58 x 60 cm
Private Collection

1890 Indonesian princess
watercolour on paper 52 x 34.5 cm
Centraal Museum, Utrecht

c1890-94 Through the Rain: the Leliegracht in Amsterdam
charcoal and chalk on paper 62.0 x 47.5 cm

c1890-94 Two young women in the snow
oil on panel 65 x 36 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

c1890-95 A bustling day near the Haarlemmersluis, Amsterdam
oil on canvas 83 x 56.5 cm

1890-1900 Portrait of Thérèse Schwartze
chalk? on paper
size not given

c1890-1900 Amsterdam Household Maids
oil on cardboard 41 x 56 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

c1890-1901 Donkey Rides on the Beach
oil on canvas 51 x 70 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

c1890-1910 The Lady Drummer
oil on canvas 100 x 65 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

1890s Barrack Yard in Winter 
oil on mahogany panel 27.8 x 16.5 cm
© Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

c1891 A view on houses near a bridge in Hamburg, Germany
charcoal and pastel on paper 38 x 37 cm

1892 Two dancing women
chalk on paper 25.3 x 28.7 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

1892 Two dancing women
chalk on paper 28.7 x 25.3 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

1892-93 Man with Accordion
chalk on paper 42.8 x 41.4 cm
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands

c1892-93 Dancing women, Amsterdam
black chalk on paper 69.0 x 51.0 cm

c1892-96 Children in the Oosterpark, Amsterdam
watercolour on paper 34.5 x 49.5 cm

1893 In the Dance Hall
oil on canvas 76 x 100 cm
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands

1893c Café-chantant in de Nes te Amsterdam
oil on canvas 91.5 x 106.5 cm
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands

1894 A view of the Leliegracht, Amsterdam
charcoal on paper 41.0 x 43.0 cm

1894 Girls dancing at the fair in the Jordaan, Amsterdam
oil on canvas 90 x 100 cm

1894 Portrait of Vincent Willem van Gogh
oil on panel 15.7 x 13 cm
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

1894 Shop Window
oil on canvas 59 x 64 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

1894 Two girls on Lijnbaansgracht
oil on canvas? size not given
Private Collection

c1894-95 Bridge over the Singel at the Oud Spiegelstraat in Amsterdam
chalk-pastel on paper 34.8 x 25.2 cm
 Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

c1894-95 Gust of wind on the Dapperplein in Amsterdam
chalk/pastel on paper 29 x 45 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

c1894-1900 Sjaantje van Ingen reading
oil on canvas 71 x 101 cm

1894-1902 The donkey ride, Scheveningen
chalk and pastel on paper 43 x 55 cm

c1894 Dancing and drumming Ashanti
pastel and charcoal on paper 32 x 25 cm

c1894 Dancing Women, Zeedijk in Amsterdam
watercolour and black chalk on paper 35.4 x 25.1 cm

c1894 Factory girls on the Prinsengracht, Amsterdam
oil on canvas 95 x 130 cm
Centraal Museum, Utrecht

c1894 Gasthuismolensteeg in Amsterdam
etching on paper 20.2 x 15.2 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

c1895-1900 A Young Woman looking out over the Sea
oil on cardboard 61 2 x 25 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

1895-1905 Young boy on the beach in Scheveningen
oil on canvas 50 x 30 cm

c1895 At the Theatre
oil on panel 37.5 x 32 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

c1895 Children in the park
watercolour on paper 25.5 x 35.5 cm

c1895 Housemaid in Amsterdam
oil on canvas 61.4 x 44.4 cm
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands

c1895 Portrait of Thérèse Schwartze
oil on panel 25 x 12 cm

c1895 View of the Damrak, Amsterdam, at night
oil on canvas 62 x 78 cm

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