Jozef Israëlsartist • painter • watercolourist • draughtsmanGroningen 1824-1911 Den Haag
biography of Jozef Israëls
Portrait of Jozef Israëls
Jozef Israëls, who grew up in Groningen in a simple Jewish environment, went to the Kweekschool and from the age of 15 to the French School. In the meantime, he already took drawing and painting lessons at the Minerva Academy. At the age of eighteen, Joseph moved to Amsterdam, where he studied at Jan Adam Kruseman's studio and also attended evening classes at the Royal Academy. Israëls was a 'people person'. All his life he would have been devoted to portraying the human figure in his characteristic environment. He chose fishermen and farmers - types from popular life - as models. Scenes that gave him a big name were not the small and big joys of life, but the images of deep human compassion, suffering and sad loneliness.
The first paintings with this theme were created in Zandvoort. His brother, who was a doctor, recommended sea air for his rheumatic diseases and Israel stayed with a carpenter for a week. This is where his famous work 'Along Mother's Grave' was created, for which the landlord and his children served as models. Only in the 60s, after his marriage and the birth of his children Isaac and Mathilde, did themes like domestic happiness and motherhood appear in his paintings. In this time too, Israëls became acquainted with David Artz and Bernard Blommers, whom he would greatly influence at the start of their career.
After 1871, when he went to live in The Hague, he became close friends with Hendrik Willem Mesdag. Together they were involved in the founding of the Hollandsche Teekenmaatschappij in 1876. Israëls was one of the first members of Pulchri Studio. As one of the older painters of the Hague School, Israëls was known for his open mind and his great interest in new expressions in literature and visual arts.
In the garden of his house on Koninginneweg in The Hague, Jozef had a studio built with a 'fisherman's corner' and an Old Dutch window. Figures posed in a certain way posed in front of that window. This resulted in portraits and interiors with beautiful light and dark effects.
Israëls' working method was widely adopted in the 19th century, both with Dutch painters such as Van Gogh and Mondriaan, and with foreigners such as Max Liebermann.
Together with Bosboom, Israëls provided proof that it was not only the landscape painters who set the tone in the early days of the Hague School.