Many of the works of art in Bonhams sale of Israeli Art on Feb 29th was made by new arrivals from Europe. A work by Reuven Rubin (Israeli, 1893-1974), a Rumanian émigré who became Israel’s first ambassador to Rumania, leads the sale.
Titled Les Oliviers and dated Rubin Les Oliviers 1958, it is an oil on canvas estimated to sell for £75,000-100,000. The picture is from the collection of Joseph and Mabel Ottenstein, Washington D.C. and thence by descent to its current owner.
Commenting on his new country Rubin said: “Here in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Tiberias I feel myself reborn. Only here do I feel that life and nature are mine. The grey clouds of Europe have disappeared. My sufferings and the war too are ended. All is sunshine, clear light and happy creative work. As the desert revives and blooms under the hands of the pioneers, so do I feel awakening in me all the latent energies… I have pitched my tent on these ancient hills and my desire to tie together the ends of the thread that history has broken.”
The present lot will feature in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné which is currently being prepared by the Reuven Rubin Museum, Tel Aviv.
Rubin was one of the first Israeli artists to achieve international recognition. Although born in Rumania and trained in art in Paris and Rumania, Reuven Rubin in many ways is a distinctly and distinctively Israeli artist. He studied briefly at the Bezalel School of Art in Jerusalem, and he exhibited in the first art exhibitions in Jerusalem in 1922. His exhibit of 1924 was the first one-man show in the Jerusalem, and his one-man show in 1932 launched the Tel Aviv Art Museum.
He was much influenced by the work of Henri Rousseau. Among Rubin’s most memorable works are his paintings of landscapes and Israeli workers. Biblical themes also occur frequently in his work.
He served as Israel’s first ambassador to Rumania, from 1948-1950. His autobiography, My Life—My Art, was published in 1969, and he received the Israel Prize in 1973 for his artistic achievement.
Another item in this sale is an earlier vision of the Holy land as captured by David Roberts, RA (British, 1796-1864). His watercolour, The approach to Mount Sinai, dated and inscribed Mount Sinai, Feb 17th 1839 is estimated to sell for £25,000-35,000.