Jankel Adler (1895-1949)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF SIMONE AND JEAN TIROCHE
Jankel Adler (1895-1949)

The Baal Shem Tov's Daughter

Jankel Adler (1895-1949)
The Baal Shem Tov's Daughter
signed 'adler' (lower right)
oil on canvas
44 1/8 x 34 in. (112 x 86.1 cm.)
Painted in 1943
N. Foght collection, London.
Waddington Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above in the 1960s, and thence by descent to the present owners.
S. W. Hayter, Jankel Adler, London, 1948, no. 29 (illustrated).
A. Klapheck, Jankel Adler, Recklinghausen, 1956, p. 61 (illustrated).
G. Goldfine, 'Adler's East European Eye', in The Jerusalem Post Magazine, 3 January 1986 (illustrated).
Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, Jankel Adler, October - December 1959, no. 34 (illustrated).
Düsseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle, Jankel Adler, November 1985 - April 1986, no. 78, p. 130; this exhibition later travelled to Tel Aviv, The Tel Aviv Museum and Lódz, Muzeum Sztuki.
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Antoine Lebouteiller
Antoine Lebouteiller

Lot Essay

The Baal Shem Tov's Daughter is a remarkable wartime example of Jankel Adler's personal take on Modernism, through which the artist explored his Jewish identity.

Born in Poland in 1895 to a traditional Hasidic Jewish family, Adler trained in Barmen school of applied arts in Germany. After the First World War, he returned to his native country where he became an active member of the 'Young Yiddish' group, an association of painters, musicians and writers who actively explored their Jewish identity through avant-garde art. In 1922, Adler moved to Dusseldorf, where he befriended Otto Dix and Paul Klee, continuing to be involved in the German artistic avant-garde scene. Adler's success in Germany, however, was abruptly interrupted in 1933, when the rise of Nazism forced him to flee to France; in 1937 his works were included in the Entartete Kunst exhibition organised by the Nazi regime to showcase the 'degeneracy' of much modern art. In 1940, Adler joined the Polish Army in France, retreating with its troops to Scotland a year later, where his style developed further, especially in the tender and emotional female portraits he executed there. In 1943, the year he painted The Baal Shem Tov's Daughter, Adler settled in London; he died in England in 1949.

This work is ostensibly the portrait of the daughter of Baal Shem Tov, the eighteenth century Rabbi and founder of the Hasidic Judaism. Celebrating life and joy, Hasidic Judaism offered a more mystical approach to Orthodox Judaism. Having been raised in a Hasidic family himself, Adler must have been familiar with the rich folklore surrounding the life of Baal Shem Tov, to which the present work may relate.

In its style, The Baal Shem Tov's Daughter demonstrates Adler's audacious engagement with the artistic movements of his time, Cubism in particular. The schematic expressive nature of the two heads recalls certain portraits painted by Picasso. The table and the monochromatic geometric design of the background are reminiscent of Georges Braque's studio pictures and of Cubist collage. In its colours, however, and in the way different hues are superimposed in transparent layers, The Baal Shem Tov's Daughter is close to certain paintings by Klee, whom Adler befriended in the 1920s. The modernist style of works such as The Baal Shem Tov's Daughter must have been a revelation to young Scottish artists such as Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde who were influenced by Adler's work. Having spent his life in pre-war Germany in the 1920s, then France and finally Great Britain in the 1940s, Adler was able to assimilate various artistic stimuli during his life while continuing to explore his Jewish identity. The Baal Shem Tov's Daughter has a rich exhibition history and is considered as one of his most complete and important paintings of the 1940s, Adler's British period.

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