Painted one year after the Israeli declaration of independence, the present work combines both religious and secular attitudes to the new political entity. Seated on the left is Elijah the Prophet, who traditionally announces the coming of the Messiah. To the immediate right of Elijah the artist holds his son, David, an obvious guarantee for the future. In the middle are two Israeli soldiers, representing the military’s recent involvement in the War of Independence. Rubin’s placement of the Seder outside the walls of Jerusalem not only gives the opportunity to combine his mastery of landscape painting with more intimate figural work, it also symbolizes the Jewish longing for the old city of Jerusalem (inaccessible to Israelis between 1948-67) and demonstrates the belief that the Messanic Redemption had not yet been achieved. Paintings of this overtly metaphoric quality are exceptionally rare in Rubin’s oeuvre and its execution at the dawn of modern Jewish statehood renders it one of a kind.

Reuven Rubin, Jerusalem, 1934, oil on canvas, sold: Sotheby’s, New York, December 4, 2014, lot 15 for $653,000