Dr Sibylle Gross will include this painting in her forthcoming
Lesser Ury catalogue raisonné.
Lesser Ury's career was shaped by his affinity for the city of Berlin. Born in Birnbaum, Germany, Ury spent time in Düsseldorf and Stuttgart (as well as Brussels, Flanders, and Paris) refining his skills as a painter and printmaker.
Rejecting traditional academic style in favour of Impressionism, he joined the Munich Secession in 1893, and exhibited with the Berlin Secession in 1915 and 1922.
Ury's work was popular among Zionist circles in Berlin, and in 1901 Martin Buber wrote an enthusiastic article about Ury in the periodical Ost und West. Ury was commissioned to create several large paintings on Biblical themes, among them Jacob Blesses Benjamin and Moses Summons Darkness. He was commissioned to paint two Biblical scenes for the Berlin lodge of Bne Briss on charity themes.
A lithograph depicting the main figure of David was published in Ury's portfolio of Biblische Gestalten (biblical figures) published by Verlag fur jüdische künst and Fritz Gurlitt Berlin in 1920 (C.C. Shutz, "Lesser Ury - Images from the Bible", in exh. cat. Lesser Ury - Images from the Bible", Boca Raton, Museum of Art, April - June 2003, pp. 13 - 23).
In his Biblical works, such as David im Gebet, Ury juxtaposed ideas about traditional Jewish identity with modernity, a dichotomy he likely grappled with himself as a modern Jewish artist working in Western Europe.
Up until his death, Lesser Ury considered his Biblical paintings to be the most significant part of his work. On the occasion of his 65th birthday in 1926 he stated that they were: "The only good paintings that I ever painted" (ibid., p. 19).