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Reuven Rubin (1893-1974)
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE LONDON COLLECTION
Reuven Rubin (1893-1974)

Galilean Landscape

Details
Reuven Rubin (1893-1974)
Galilean Landscape
signed and signed in Hebrew 'Rubin' (lower right)
oil on canvas
25¾ x 32¼ in. (65.4 x 81.8 cm.)
Painted in 1928-1929
Provenance
Eva, Marchioness of Reading and thence by descent to the present owner.
Exhibited
London, Christie's, Reuven Rubin, an exhibition celebrating the 120th anniversary of the artist's birth and the 30th anniversary of the Rubin Museum in Tel Aviv, March 2013, no. 10.

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Antoine Lebouteiller
Antoine Lebouteiller

Lot Essay

Carmela Rubin has confirmed the authenticity of this work.


Executed in the 1920s, Galilean Landscape exemplifies Reuven Rubin's unmistakable style, as well as his profound ties with the local land. Recognizable in the picture are the olive trees, the gentle dunes and the low, squared houses which punctuate the region's landscape. Resorting to a softly modulated palette faithful to the dusty tones of the Mediterranean Middle-East, Rubin depicted the scene with the deliberate candour of a naïf painter.

Originally from Rumania, Rubin first travelled to Jerusalem in 1912 to enrol at the Bazalel Academy of Arts and Crafts. Unsatisfied with the teaching, he nevertheless went back to Europe, visiting Paris and Italy before returning to Rumania. In 1921 Rubin travelled to New York. The unique style of his paintings attracted the attention of Alfred Stieglitz, who encouraged the Anderson Gallery to propose a solo show dedicated to the young artist. The event attracted the attention of the critics, at the time embattled in a controversy over the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, to which the folkloristic paintings of Rubin offered a fresh, unexpected alternative. Speaking of his own art for the occasion, Rubin declared: 'I am not at all interested in copying nature. I wish only to express the idea of a Supreme Being. I am a seeker of a God who will end the suffering of humanity. I see Him in colour, line, movement' (quoted in A. Werner, Rubin, Tel-Aviv, 1958, n.p.).

In 1922 Rubin returned to Palestine, settling in Tel-Aviv: Galilean Landscape was painted during this period of rekindled communion with the land. The 1920s saw Rubin becoming an artistic regenerative force in the burgeoning art community. Shortly after his successful exhibition at the old Citadel of David in Jerusalem in 1924, Rubin became a leading member of the vibrant cultural community of Tel-Aviv, befriending the city's artists, writers and dancers, such as the poet Chaim Nachman Bialik, the bohemian and dancer Baruch Agadati and the artist Sionah Tagger. In the preface to Rubin's 1928 exhibition in Paris, the critic Jean Topaz wrote: 'If one can say of a single person that he founded a school then I would say that with Rubin, the 'Palestinian style' has been born' (quoted in A. Werner, Rubin, Tel-Aviv, 1958, n.p.).

This picture was formerly in the collection of Eva, Marchioness of Reading, in whose family's collection it has remained. Eva was the daughter of Alfred Mond, who became Lord Melchett, a prominent British politician and philanthropist, Melchett was the patriarch of an important Jewish industrialist dynasty who had espoused Zionism later in life. In his later years, he spent a good deal of time in the area around the Sea of Galilee - appropriately the area immortalised in Rubin's painting - where he had a house built, the Villa Melchett. Like her father, Eva too became involved with Jewish causes. In addition her husband, the Marquess of Reading, held among other positions the first chairmanship of the Palestine Electricity Company; one of the power stations retains his name to this day.

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