oil on canvas: 70 x 50 cm
signed ‘Isaac Israels’ (lower right)
"*" indicates required fields
Isaac Israels is recognised to be one of the leading artists of the Dutch Impressionist movement. Born in Amsterdam, he moved with his family to The Hague in 1872. There his father Josef, one of the most prominent representatives of The Hague School, taught him the fundamentals of painting. Isaac was proven to be very talented, he breathed and lived art. In 1877-1880 he briefly studied at the Fine Art Academy in The Hague. In 1881 he made his debut at the Exhibition of Living Masters in The Hague. His unfinished work “Practising the signal” (now in the Mesdag-Van Houten Collection) was purchased by the renowned painter and a friend of his father Hendrik Willem Mesdag.
Isaac’s need to distinguish himself from his father and his search for an authentic style led him to Amsterdam. There, during his enrolment at the National Academy for Fine Arts, Isaac studied with his future best friend and greatest rival George Hendrik Breitner (1857-1923). Both, inspired by the fleeting moments of city life, soon become known as Amsterdam Impressionists.
From the late 1870s Isaac Israels visited the Salon des Artistes in Paris annually with his family. He became familiar with young and innovative Parisian artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1902) and Edgar Degas (1834-1917). Israels eventually moved from Amsterdam to Paris in 1903, where he remained for years. During these years he created numerous impressions of urban life. It is very likely that his fascination with the night life as a subject was sparked by his Parisian contemporaries.
Following the death of his father, Isaac Israels returned to The Hague in 1911 and settled in his ancestral home at the Koninginnegracht. He started working in his father’s studio at Laan van Roos en Doorn which was situated at the back of the family home. After settling in The Hague, Israels made a series of works in the popular Scala Theatre, located at the Wagenstraat. The directors provided him backstage access which allowed the artist to create several studies of the dressers, dancers and actors.
A picador is one of the pair of horse-mounted bullfighters in a Spanish-style bullfight that jab the bull with a lance. They perform in the tercio de varas, which is the first of the three stages in a stylized bullfight. In this painting we see the picador getting ready before the event.