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Jozef Israëls

Jozef Israëls - Lyklema Fine Art

Jozef Israëls (Groningen 1824 – 1911 The Hague) was one of the leading Dutch painters of the Hague School. Jozef was born into a Jewish family with a lot of attention for the Jewish community, religious and artistic matters. His parents wanted him to become a rabbi, but it became clear from an early age that Israëls was born to be an artist due to his talent for drawing. Although he initially achieved success with history paintings, over time he specialized in the fishing genre, which would make him world famous.

He was barely eighteen years old when he apprenticed in Amsterdam with Jan Adam Kruseman and Jan Willem Pieneman. He continued to live there until 1871. After this he lived and worked in The Hague. During a stay in Paris from 1845 to 1847, Israëls further developed his academic painting skills in the studio of the French François-Édouard Picot and was taught romantic history painting. Louis Gallait and the French Dutchman Ary Scheffer also oriented him to Romanticism and he met, among others, Jan Jongkind and the painters of Barbizon. He then traveled to Germany and became acquainted with the German Romantics.

Despite this journey, Israëls did not become a history painter. While recovering from an illness in the fishing town of Zandvoort, he was gripped by the tragedy of the simple lives of the fishermen. He became internationally known with his paintings in which the fishermen are depicted in a sober and subdued manner through the use of a low scale. Jozef knows how to portray the drama of the difficult existence in well-balanced compositions.

Israëls' pasty painting touch, his warm tonal colors and the use of light-dark effects make him the founder of the Hague School. Just like Rembrandt, Israëls liked to use chiaroscuro in his compositions and thus enhanced light-dark contrasts. He sold his work abroad like hotcakes and received critical acclaim. In Van Gogh's eyes, Israëls was a Dutch Millet.

Jozef Israëls - 1872 -Kinderen der zee- Rijksmuseum

Jozef Israëls - Kids at the sea- Rijksmuseum


He depicted the harsh reality of the life of the poor hardworking worker in an unpolished manner. His work is therefore in line with the realism of the nineteenth century, which had been common in art since 1850. In The Hague he became close friends with Hendrik Willem Mesdag. They were involved together in the founding of the Hollandsche Teekenmaatschappij in 1876, just like Anton Mauve, and played a leading role in the Pulchri Studio in The Hague. Willem Maris and Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch were also based in The Hague at that time and were part of the Hague School.

From 1885 he trained his son Isaac Israëls, who then settled in Amsterdam and, like Breitner, became one of the Amsterdam impressionists. Jozef Israëls traveled through Spain from 1897 to 1898 and made a travel story based on drawings. In addition to his son, Israëls also had Bernard Blommers, Hein Burgers and Nicolaas Jan Adriaan as students.

Joodse Bruiloft-1903-Rijksmuseum
Jewish Wedding-1903-Rijksmuseum
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