Lot 9
  • 9

David Bomberg

80,000 - 120,000 USD
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  • David Bomberg
  • Mt. Scopus and Government House
  • oil on canvas
  • 19 3/4 by 24 3/4 in.
  • 50 by 63 cm.
  • Painted in 1923.


Collection of Lt. Col. and Mrs. Robert Solomon
Acquired by Mr. Margulies at the Ben Uri Gallery, June 21, 1968


London, The Leicester Galleries, David Bomberg, Paintings of Palestine and Petra, February 1928
Jerusalem, Israel Museum, David Bomberg in Palestine, October 18, 1983 – Janurary 18, 1984
London, Ben Uri Gallery, David Bomberg in the Holyland, 1923-1927, Janurary 30- February 29, 1984


Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, David Bomberg in Palestine 1923-27, p. 35, no. 16, illustrated


The work is in overall good condition. There is surface dirt in the two upper corners and three areas of vertical craquelure, two parallel areas in the center of the canvas, 8 cm and 10 cm long and one to the far right of the canvas 4 cm long.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Born in Birmingham in 1890, Bomberg was the fifth child of a Jewish craftsman who fled Poland to escape the Pogroms. After studying at the Slade School of Fine Art, the artist travelled to Paris with fellow artist Jacob Epstein and met with Picasso, Kisling, Derain, Max Jacob and Modigliani. At a young age he had already been invited to participate in several important exhibitions and received critical acclaim.  He organized the Jewish section for the Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition “Twentieth Century Art” and exhibited as one of the “Invited Guests” of the Vorticist 1915 exhibition. During these years the artist was noted for his radically simplified style developed under influences of Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism. After World War I, Bomberg’s confidence as an artist was shaken and in 1923 he decided to sojourn to Palestine as a delegate of the Keren Hayesod who were interested in receiving paintings which reflected the heroic spirit of the pioneers.

Bomberg’s years in Mandate Palestine from 1923 to 1927 proved to be a turning point his career. His delight in the intense sunlight and defined forms of the beautiful panoramas of the land quickly became an obsession and inspired the artist to begin painting in the open air. Although he painted a few canvases depicting the pioneer workers, he preferred to study the endless changes of the landscape in the different light and the British officers in Jerusalem became his biggest patrons.

Mount Scopus and Government House (offered here) is an important example of Bomberg’s masterful work in Palestine. Painted the year of his arrival, the work is characterized by a strong, expressive hand and broad brush strokes. The lines of the land dominate the buildings which are few and small in dimension and figures are non-existent. Encompassing all is the full force of the dazzling white light of the Jerusalem summer.

Stephanie Rachum summarizes this period in Bomberg's work and notes: “For Bomberg the artist, the encounter with the Holy Land was to prove pivotal. While there he moved from a topographic realism with strong cubist underpinnings toward a personal mode of expression. As early as 1923, in his paintings of Jerusalem by moonlight and in such works as Mount Scopus and Government House, one can already discern the beginning of a freer style. This freer style develops side by side with his almost photographic depictions and can be recognized in such works as The Monastary of St. George. By 1927, just before leaving Palestine, he did a painting of Jerusalem in which two-thirds of the canvas was composed of broad, strong, expressive brushstrokes which rendered the land as felt rather than optically experienced. The period in Palestine had been one of transition; Bomberg’s search for a personal expression of essence had begun. The paintings stand as witness.” (Stephanie Rachum, “David Bomberg: Views from the Jewish-Zionist Side” in David Bomberg in Palestine 1923-1927, The Israel Museum (exhibition catalogue), Jerusalem, 1983, p. 24).