ISRAËLS, JOZEF (1824–1911), Dutch painter. Israëls, who was born in Groningen, the son of a money changer, studied first at the Amsterdam Academy, then at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he copied the works of old masters at the Louvre and became acquainted with the School of Barbizon. After returning to Amsterdam in 1847, Israëls earned his living by painting portraits and historical subjects. Among these were scenes from Jewish life and history as well as from Dutch history. In 1855, when for health reasons he went to live at the fishing village of Zandvoort, he turned to the representation of fishermen and country people. His pictures of the Netherlands coast showed the influence of the Barbizon school, while his interiors are reminiscent of the Dutch paintings of the 17th century. His treatment of light is reminiscent of Rembrandt, and so are some of his subjects, particularly his Saul and David and The Jewish Wedding. In 1871 Israëls moved to The Hague, where he was joined by a number of other painters. This group became known as the "Haagse School" and produced fine, realistic landscapes in which shades of green and a grey sky played a great part. Israëls was thus one of the discoverers of the true Dutch landscape. But he also frequently reverted to Jewish subjects. One of his best-known works is The Son of an Ancient People (1889), which shows a forlorn shopkeeper in the Amsterdam ghetto and is filled with that compassion which distinguishes his best paintings. Israëls is considered one of the leading Dutch 19th-century painters.
His son isaac israËls (1865–1934) studied at the Academy in The Hague and then spent some time in Paris, Spain, and England. On his return home he painted mainly portraits and military subjects. However, after a stay in the mining regions of Belgium, he turned to the representation of working-class people. In 1886 he settled in Amsterdam and, in contrast to his father, became a painter of city life. When he moved to Paris in 1903 he saw the work of Toulouse-Lautrec, whose influence can be found in his coffeehouse and cabaret scenes. Handling his brush with great freedom and using strong colors, Isaac Israëls showed great vitality and succeeded in conveying much of the character of his time.
M. Liebermann, Jozef Israëls (Ger., 19224); P. Zilcken, Josef Israëls (It., 1910); J.E. Phythian, Jozef Israëls (Eng., 1912); M. Eisler, Jozef Israëls (Eng., 1924); W.J. de Gruyter, Catalogue of the Israëls Exhibition in Groningen and Leiden (1956); C. Wentinck, Catalogue of the Israëls Exhibition, Amsterdam (1958).
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