Rabin, Sam

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RABIN, SAM (1903–1991), British painter. Rabin was born in Manchester as Samuel Rabinovitch, the son of an impoverished cap cutter who had migrated from Vitebsk. His children were artistically gifted and Rabin was taught draughts-manship by an elder brother. At the age of eleven he was the youngest pupil ever to win a scholarship to the Manchester School of Art, and later won a scholarship to the Slade School in London, where, at the age of 15, he was the youngest student and where he was befriended and influenced by the artist Barnett *Freedman. On the completion of his studies Rabin spent some time in Paris and took up modeling under the influence of the famous French sculptor Charles Despiau. His portrait head of Barnett Freedman is in the Tate Gallery, London. Rabin, however, devoted most of his career to working in pastels and to the subject of sport. A physically powerful man, Rabin won a bronze medal in wrestling at the 1928 Olympics and later, to make ends meet, became a professional wrestler. Wrestling and boxing became the principal subjects of his work, which depicted the atmosphere of the ring and the figures of the combatants with a mixture of brilliant realism and graceful movement. Rabin was also an actor, and played boxers and wrestlers in several films, including The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), where he had the role of Daniel *Mendoza, the famous Jewish boxer. He taught at the Goldsmith School of Art from 1949 to 1965, where Mary Quant was one of his students, and then at the Bournemouth College of Art. His work is represented in leading public collections; the British Museum obtained a group of his drawings.

add. bibliography:

odnb online; J. Sheeran, Introducing Sam Rabin (1965).

[Charles Samuel Spencer /

William D. Rubinstein (2nd ed.)]