Having moved to Paris in 1904, Isaac Israels wrote to his friend, the artist Willem Witsen (1860-1923): 'Het is een grote dwaasheid om hier naar toe te gaan, zie ik nu, echter heb ik Oosterpark maar opgezegd' (see: Anna Wagner, Isaac Israels, Rotterdam 1967, p.38). This quote clearly illustrates to what extent he felt that he was taking a risk by moving away from Amsterdam. Conversely, it also shows how much he wanted to discover the different world that he found there.
Israels was often to be found outside on the Parisian streets and squares, at the Longchamps horse races, in the gardens of the Tuilerien and in the Bois de Bologne. The present lot is superb example how Israels observed city life in all its facets. The young family is portrayed relaxing on the grass, not dissimilar to how one would expect to find this subject today. The father is cutting bread, whilst mother is reclining under a decoratively striped parasol. The young daughter, wearing a white dress and little red socks, seems to be engrossed in the contents of the picnic basket.
It is interesting to note that Isaac has allowed the form of the figures in the background to be distorted by the effect of direct sunlight. A stylistic element he would have seen in the work of the French Impressionists and quickly absorbed to some extent in his own work.
Returning to the Bois de Boulogne time and time again, Israels found some of his most preferred subjects there. Using a relatively light palette compared to his earlier Amsterdam period, almost transparent pinks, greens and blues are employed. It has been generally acknowledged that it is primarily his views of parks and gardens that bear the most similarities with work by French Impressionists such as Armand Guillaumin (1841-1927) and Berthe Morisot (1841-1895).