Auction 168 Part 1 Israeli & International Art
Jan 20, 2018 (Your local time)
 Kikar de Shalit, Herzeliya Pituah
The auction has ended

LOT 81:

Reuven Rubin
1893 - 1974

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Sold for: $95,000
Start price:
$ 85,000
Estimated price:
$150,000 - $200,000
Auction house commission: 15%
VAT: On commission only

1893 - 1974
The Fisherman,
Gouache on paper laid down on canvas,
266X200 cm.

The authenticity of the painting has been confirmed by Ms. Carmela Rubin, Rubin Museum, Tel-Aviv.

Provenance: Rutie Ofer Collection.

In 1966 Rubin designed a rug (now in private collections in Canada and the U.S.) identical to the painting before us, which was probably the proto-type. A photo of the rug appears in the autobiography ”Reuven” (Massada, Tel Aviv, 1973, page 181). More significant is the title Reuven gave the rug – ”Miraculous Draught of Fish”. And so, when studying the motif of fishing in Reuven’s work, we learn of its beginning in a series of woodcuts, ”God – Wishers”, from 1923, a series that combined Jewish and Christian content expressed by the painter , who has just come to Israel, in a Zionist/religious manner.
Here the woodcut, ”Fisherman from the Galilee”, represented a bald and bearded figure, robed and barefoot, holding a fishnet, a basket with two fish inside, on a white background with fish swimming in the bottom (the Kinneret?). In the upper part, Middle Eastern houses, hills and trees. In the Jewish-Christian context of the print series, ”The Fisherman from the Galilee” was, of course, a paraphrase of Jesus’ ”Miraculous Draught of Fish”, eternalized in the ”The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish” in the North-West of the Kinneret.
Here, as told, Jesus fed over 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish (”the Gospel by Mark”, chapter 6, 34-44). The fish alluded in the basket resting by the feet of ”The Fisherman from the Galilee”. In the same year, 1923, Reuven painted ”Fisherman in Tiberius” in oil, the fisherman depicted with Arab dress and appearance, on the bank of the Kinneret, a basket of fish in his hand.
The charm of the East and of the Arab natives has been emphasized, its connection to working the land, fishing etc. The height of this idealization of the Arab (an example of the Hebrew pioneer, until 1929, also see the monumental Arab fishermen paintings by Menachem Shemi and Israel Paldi from the late 1920’s) will find its expression in 1928 in a painting by Reuven, ”The Arab Fish Vendor”, depicting an Arab (with a defined Semite profile) selling gold fish, symbols of fortune and luck, their color tones reflected also in the pink-goldish shirt of the vendor.
Here, in this painting, made decades later in the manner of the biblical lithographs by Reuven of the same decade, the artist returns to the Christian motif, that elevates the fisherman to a Messianic height: Reuven composes him as a holy biblical icon, the fishing net in his hand with an abundance of fish, floating over the blue background, somewhat celestial, possibly the blue of the Kinneret, over which Jesus walked miraculously.
(Translated and adapted by Gidon Ofrat).

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