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Isaac Israels (Dutch, 1865-1934)
Isaac Israëls' Indonesian' pictures can be more or less divided into two different periods. The first comprises the pictures with an Indonesian theme painted in The Hague and the second, Indonesian subjects painted in the Dutch Indies. In 1898 the Nationale Tentoonstelling van Vrouwenarbeid was organized in The Hague to honour the coronation of Queen Wilhelmina. A section of this exhibition called 'Insulinde' was devoted to Indonesia; Isaac Israëls was impressed by the Javanese dancers. From then on he would regularly paint Indonesian dancers, musicians and portraits.
It would be twenty years, before he would travel to Java and Bali, which he did in December 1921, he stayed for only ten months. The most striking difference between the two 'Indonesian' periods is the rendering of light and colour. In his Hague period light was more subdued and colours tended more toward The Hague School-tones like grey, green and brown. In the Dutch Indies Israëls preferred his subject to be outside in broad daylight, which is reflected in his pictures. This lot can be dated circa 1915/1916. During these years, he portrayed many Javanese living in The Hague, as well as Indonesian students (among them his friend, the law student Sosro Kartono). They posed in his studio or on his balcony at home. To give the pictures a true Indonesian feel, Israëls borrowed attributes like Oriental clothing, daggers, jewelry and wayang dolls. He even obtained palm trees from the zoo across the street (see: J. Ubbens, 'Isaac Israëls en de Oriënt', in: Isaac Israëls, Hollands Impressionist, Schiedam 1999, p. 128).
The sarong the sitter is wearing in the present lot, is also depicted in another painting by Israëls, the portrait of Sosro Kartono, made in 1915/1916 (see J.P. Glerum, De Indische Israëls, Zwolle, 2005, ill. P. 63). She appears to be sitting in a studio, where the background is formed by folding screens with Indonesian flowermotives. Other than the paintings Israëls made in Indonesia, this work lacks the illuminating brightness of the works he made on Java, but have a more subdued colour palette. The work depicts serenity and calm beauty; although the influence of the Hague school is still noticeable, this work already shows Isaac Israëls as an Impressionist.