15
15

PROPERTY FROM THE BEN URI GALLERY AND MUSEUM, LONDON

Reuven Rubin
SELF-PORTRAIT
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 312,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
15

PROPERTY FROM THE BEN URI GALLERY AND MUSEUM, LONDON

Reuven Rubin
SELF-PORTRAIT
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 312,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Israeli & International Art

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Reuven Rubin
1893 - 1974
SELF-PORTRAIT
Signed Rubin and again in Hebrew (lower left)
Oil on canvas
35 3/4 by 25 in.
91 by 63.5 cm
Painted in 1937.
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This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Carmela Rubin of the Rubin Museum Foundation.

Provenance

Arthur Tooth and Sons, Ltd., London
Acquired from the above in 1938

Exhibited

London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, Paintings of Palestine by Rubin, 1938 , no. 24, illustrated
London, Ben Uri Collection, Opening Exhibition, 1944
London, Ben Uri Collection, Exhibition of Paintings by A.A. Wolmark (Konstam Collection) Dobrinsky – Paris and Selected Works from the Ben Uri Art Collection, 1945
London, Ben Uri Collection, The Artist’s Self-portrait and Environment, 1951
London, Ben Uri Collection, Selections from the Ben Uri Collection, 1960
London, Ben Uri Collection,  Ben Uri Permanent Collection Exhibition, 1981
Tel Aviv, Rubin Museum Foundation, Rubin, a Self Portrait : an Exhibition Marking Rubin's Centenary, 1893-1993, 1993, no. 17 
London, Ben Uri Collection, Chagall and his Circle, 2005, illustrated in color in the unpaginated catalogue
London, Ben Uri Collection, Homeless and Hidden 1, 2008, no. 22
London, Ben Uri Collection, Israel and Art: 60 Years through the Eyes of Teddy Kollek, 2008, illustrated on pp. 3 and 31
Martin Roman Deppner & Karl Janke, eds., The Hidden Trace: Jewish Paths Through Modernity, Osnabruck, 2008, no. 37, illustrated
London, Osborne Samuel, Apocalypse: Unveiling a lost masterpiece by Marc Chagall and masterworks from the Ben Uri Collection, 2010, illustrated no. 26, p. 28
London, Bonhams, Bonhams Israeli: Israeli Works from the Ben Uri Collection, 2011 
London, Somerset House, Out of Chaos: Ben Uri, 100 Years in London, 2015, illustrated in the exhibition catalogue p. 87
London, Christie’s King Street, Reuven Rubin: Select Works from the British Collections, 2013

Literature

Ben Uri Collection, Ben Uri Art Society Permanent Collection Catalogue, London, 1959, no. 161
Barry Fealdman, Jewish Chronicle, 18 September 1981
Walter Schwab & Julia Weiner, Jewish Artists: The Ben Uri Collection: Paintings, Drawings, Prints and Sculpture, London, 1994, illustrated p. 91
The Public Catalogue Foundation, Oil Paintings in Public Ownership: Camden, Vol. 11 London, 2013, illustrated p. 37
Ben Uri Collection, Highlights from the Ben Uri Collection: Vol. 1, London, 2015, illustrated p. 42

Catalogue Note

Rubin returned to the subject of the self-portrait repeatedly at different points throughout his career, and a study of his self-portraits provides a thorough glimpse into the development of his style and technique throughout his career – from his early naturalistic Romanian works, to his psychological studies of the Eretz Yisrael period of the 1920s, to his confident painterly self-portraits in the 1930s and beyond. In fact, Rubin’s final work of art was a self-portrait, drawn the morning of his passing – even in his final hours, he continued the self-reflective and self-preserving act of creating a self-portrait. Rubin’s distinct features, his long face and shock of wild hair, are instantly recognizable in any of his works throughout the decades.

 

In the superb example from the Ben Uri Collection, where it has been held since its purchase from Arthur Tooth’s 1938 London exhibition, Paintings of Palestine by RUBIN , Rubin the artist, face framed by a bright blue shirt collar, touches brush to palette in advance of reaching out to lay color onto an unseen canvas. A vase of delicately rendered flowers, a subject repeated in Rubin’s works, both in portraits and still-lifes, stands between the artist and his viewer. On the cover of the 1938 exhibition catalogue, another self-portrait from the 1930s (whereabouts unknown) shows Rubin in a similar pose, poised to paint and half hidden behind a lush bouquet of flowers – here with head wrapped in the artist’s turban.

 

“The vase with flower, a recurring motif in Rubin’s portraits, had come to symbolize the artist’s own mood… In the dark paintings of the Romanian period Rubin takes this symbol to signify redemption and re-birth. However weak or stunted the flower or plant may appear, its very presence invests the painting with a feeling of faith and hope;” (Carmela Rubin, Rubin: A Self-Portrait, 1993 p. 48) The single flower from so many of Rubin’s portraits from the 1920s has exploded in the 1930s into a full bouquet of flowers. The symbol of re-birth has grown into a lush, vital symbol of plenty.

 

The style of Rubin’s portraits shifted dramatically between the 1920s and 1930s. The flat surfaced, naïve style works of the 20s, full of symbolism and storytelling, have given way to the painterly exploration of color, light and texture. In the vein of the Impressionists before him, Rubin has grown enamored with the material possibilities of paint on canvas. Through his careful brushwork, each flower petal in his lush bouquet receives detailed attention. Light plays across the planes of the artist’s face, sculpting his jaw, nose and brow out from the feathery wall behind him. As Carmela Rubin wrote in the catalogue for Rubin: A Self-Portrait, her 1993 exhibit which included this painting “The thirties sees a great change in the self-portrait paintings. For Rubin, not unlike most early Eretz Yisrael painters, the experience of firstness and rebirth has by now played itself out. He relinquishes his mission as a harbinger, and now devotes himself to questions of paint and brush-strokes.” (p. 46)

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