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Isaac Israels (1865-1934)
Isaac Israels (1865-1934)

Before the performance at the Scala Theatre, The Hague

Isaac Israels (1865-1934) Before the performance at the Scala Theatre, The Hague signed 'Isaac Israels' (lower right) oil on canvas 79 x 65.5 cm. Painted circa 1927-1934.

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Lot Essay

After traveling through the Dutch East Indies and the Southern parts of Europe, Israels moved back to The Hague at the end of 1922. He had some difficulties to adjust to the placid atmosphere, since he was used to the more bustling life in Paris and London. But he liked the city, exactly because 'nothing ever happens here and there is no distraction like in Paris.' (see: Anna Wagner, Isaac Israels, Rotterdam, 1967, p. 49). His life became more organized: breakfast at eight, a morning stroll, then work till five; after that a walk through The Hague ending up at his regular café with his regular group of friends. He liked to go to the cinema and to the Scala Theatre (fig. 1) in the Wagenstraat. Israels had been introduced at the Scala Theatre by his good friend Alexander Vermolen in 1927. Between 1927 until his death in 1934 Israels often went to the theatre where he could observe the glamour of the entertainment world, not only from the public, but also from backstage.

In the present painting, two showgirls are making their final preparations before their performance. The young woman in the foreground rearranges her flamboyant skirt while the other girl properly attaches her head-dress in front of the grand mirror. Isaac liked to make drawings, seated amongst the audience and portraying what happened on stage. Several times Israels was charmed to such an extend by a show, that he would ask the group to pose the next day, without the distraction of the public. During his years in The Hague, Israels was often busy sketching in the dressing rooms, where artists were getting dressed or having their make-up done. Israels' application of the paint is of meticulous importance, because the fast brushstrokes enhance the dynamic atmosphere of the backstage area of the Scala Theatre. Despite the extravagant costumes and overwhelming decor, the most important element in the present lot remains the interplay of light, colour and movement, the three constituents that form the core of true Impressionism.

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