384
384

PROPERTY FROM A DUTCH PRIVATE COLLECTION

Isaac Israels
GIRLS ON A BRIDGE IN BATAVIA, DUTCH EAST INDIES
Estimate
450,000680,000
LOT SOLD. 562,500 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
384

PROPERTY FROM A DUTCH PRIVATE COLLECTION

Isaac Israels
GIRLS ON A BRIDGE IN BATAVIA, DUTCH EAST INDIES
Estimate
450,000680,000
LOT SOLD. 562,500 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

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Hong Kong

Isaac Israels
1865 - 1934
GIRLS ON A BRIDGE IN BATAVIA, DUTCH EAST INDIES
Stamped with the artist's studio stamp (Lugt 1402a) 
Oil on canvas
64 by 80 cm; 25 by 31½ in
Executed circa 1922
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Provenance

Estate of the artist
Probably acquired from the above by the family of the present owner; thence by descent
Sotheby's London, 13 December 2018, Lot 1

Catalogue Note

The son of established Dutch artist Jozef Israels, Isaac Israels was inculcated with his father’s similar zeal and affinity for painting. His storied rise as an artist began as a society painter in The Hague, before he started travelling across Europe in search for places to convey impressions of light upon canvas. By 1921, the Dutch Impressionist landed on the shores of Java, resulting in a short but immensely prolific period in his oeuvre. Israels was endlessly fascinated by the vivacious charms of Batavia (Jakarta), the bustling Javanese region offering a vastly different culture and scenery to the European cityscapes he was accustomed to. Girls on a Bridge in Batavia features the artist at the pinnacle of his creative zenith, finding an artistic rejuvenation in the new setting. The present setting appears to be Pintoe Ketjil (known in Dutch as the Kleine Poort) - a scene which Israels depicted in other works executed in watercolour and oil. Pintoe Ketjil (also spelt Pintu Kecil), meaning 'Little Door', derived its name from the smaller door of the Batavia Castle, from which the canal was accessed.

Set on a bridge over the canal, Girls on a Bridge in Batavia is suffused in a light, airy atmosphere that impresses the effervescence of the tropical climate. Spurred by an innate Impressionist impulse, Israels renders the sunny scene in his signature series of short, loosened brushwork, testifying to the efficacy the maestro operated at. The ephemera of the fleeting scene is captured in rapid, exacting detail, testifying to the painter’s skillful familiarity with his brush and color. While Javanese dance and music captured Israels' imagination even before he travelled to the East, the opportunity to observe street life in Java was a revelation. With astonishing use of colour, here Israels depicts two women crossing a bridge in old Batavia (Jakarta). The setting appears to be the 

Two Javanese girls walk across the bridge, their heads cast downwards against the sweltering sun, accompanied by a man walking opposite them. Israels adorns them in pastel accents of pink and yellow ochre, their bright attire inundating the painting with an incandescence that typifies his cheerful, radiant opus. Their bodies are bathed in a luminous yellow light, rendered in varying tonalities that attests to Israels’ acute sensitivity towards the delicate subtleties of light. The sunlight eventually recedes into the darkened shadows of deepened blue, instilling the scene with dimensionality and perspective. Composed with a limited depth of field, the girls take up majority of the foreground, drawing their pensive figures closer to the viewer. The ingenuity of Israels’ painterly instinct constructs an entirely immersive experience for the viewer, almost as if they were standing at the bridge themselves. The elusive nature of the piece expresses Israels’ desire to replicate aspects of the scenery, rather than observing its structural integrity. The resulting effect is a captivating reproduction of an idyllic reality submerged in generous light.

An oeuvre composed of illusory, indistinct brushwork, Isaac Israels breathed a fresh air of spontaneity into his sunlit scenes. Girls on a Bridge in Batavia is one of the exceptional bodies of work produced during Israels’ brief time in Java, replicating the effulgent sunlight of the Javanese island and its inhabitants with an expert proficiency.

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong