Jozef Israels Paintings

1824 - 1911

It was not until Joseph (Jozef) Israels had reached the age of 16 that he achieved his wish to work in Amsterdam, where he studied under Cornelis Kruseman. In 1845 he went to Paris, where he entered the studios of the French painters Paul Delaroche and Horace Vernet and the Swiss sculptor James Pradier for three years, but his real teacher at that time was the painter François Édouard Picot. At the 1867 Paris Exposition, Israels won a third-class medal in recognition of the merit of his work and he was decorated with the cross of the Légion d’Honneur. His contribution to the 1878 Exposition in Paris firmly established his reputation. The critics were unanimous in their praise of all his pictures, notably Alone in the World, From Darkness to Light, and Cobblers at Dinner. Israels won a first-class medal and was made an Officier de la Légion d’Honneur. Subsequently, he was appointed a commander. He won two Grands Prix at the 1889 and 1900 Expositions Universelles respectively. On 3 January 1885, he had been elected as a corresponding member of the Institut de France.

The romantic influence of his artistic education can be clearly felt in his early paintings, which were often Biblical scenes. He did not free himself from this influence immediately after his return to Amsterdam in 1848, as he exhibited for the first time at the Salon de Paris in 1855 with the history painting William ‘the Silent’ of Orange Bidding Defiance to King Philip II of Spain. But Israels soon abandoned history painting in favour of genre scenes. He threw himself resolutely into the study of nature and the outdoors, and from 1857 he produced some noteworthy works. Due to illness Israels went to Zandvoort, a small fishing village, and it was here he grew to admire the sea, and he painted the lives of the fisherfolk with feeling. The following works date from this period: Evening on the Beach (1857); Contented Old Age, The Peaceful House (1861); Shepherd (1862); The Eve of Separation (1863); Boat (1866); and Sleeping Women (1868). Israels had found his vocation, and although he later dedicated himself to other genres, in particular the portrait, his best paintings remain these informal scenes depicting poor people. Until the end of his life, his powerful, varied technique was the inspiration for the Dutch painters Albert Neuhuys, Johannes Bosboom and Bloomers, and through them Van Gogh in the populist work of his first period. Israels’ influence, in fact, extended beyond the Dutch School.

Museum and Gallery Holdings

Amsterdam (Rijksmus.): Alone in the World; H. Holweg; Louis Jacques Veltman; Mme Sinkel; Self-portrait; Return Journey; Adam and Eve
Amsterdam (Stedelijk Mus.): Marguerite de Parme and Prince William; Study of a Head; A Son of the Ancient People; Eléazer Herschel; Eve; Path along the Cemetery; Children of the Sea; Self-portrait; Good Neighbours; After the Storm; Children of the Sea; In the Wheatfields; David before Saul
Boston (MFA): Convalescent Mother and a Child (oil on panel); Young Girl Sewing (oil on canvas); The Day before Parting (1862, oil on canvas)
Chicago (AI): Mother and Child on a Seashore (c. 1890, oil on panel)
Detroit (IA): The Cottage Madonna (c. 1867, oil on canvas)
Dordrecht (Mus.): Peasant Interior (1885, oil on panel)
Florence (Uffizi): Self-portrait
Glasgow: Frugal Meal; Happy Family
Groningen: Portrait of M.K. Mesdag; Poor Johannes
Leiden: Tonco Medderman
London (NG): Fishermen carrying a Drowned Man (1861?, oil on canvas, exhibited at the Salon in 1861)
Los Angeles (County MA): Farm Girl Resting (drawing, watercolour over traces of graphite)
Montreal: Moonlight; Lighting his Pipe; Boats Departing
Montreal (Learmont Collection): Grace; Mme Israels; The Waders
Moscow (State Tretyakov Gal.): Dressmakers in Holland
Munich: Consolation
New York (Metropolitan Mus. of Art): Expectation (oil on canvas); Grandmother’s Treasure (oil on canvas)
Paris (Mus. d’Orsay): Woman Preparing her Dinner (oil on canvas); Cottage Interior, Seamstress (oil on canvas)
Philadelphia (MA): The Last Breath (1872, oil on canvas); Old Friends (Silent Conversation) (before 1882, oil on canvas)
Rotterdam: Woman at the Window; Michel de Mouchy
The Hague (Gemeentemus.): The Little Dressmaker; Portrait of W. Roelofs; Mlle Terlet; When One Becomes Old; Portrait of H.W. Mesdag; Alone in the World; Study of a Nude; Harp Player; Study; Courtyard; Head of a Man