Fine Art

Isaac Israels

Dutch, 1865-1934

FĂȘte de Montmartre

Pastel on board
12 1/2 x 15 1/2 inches (31.5 x 39.5 cm)
Signed: a Dorival  Isaac Israels


Dorival (acquired from the artist)
B. Meijer, Wassenaar, The Netherlands
Private collection, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Isaac Israels was the son of the cultivated and sophisticated painter Jozef Israels. He was born in Amsterdam in 1865 and from an early age Israels displayed precocious artistic talent. He studied at the Royal Art Academy in The Hague from 1878 to 1880 where he met George Hendrik Breitner who became his lifelong friend. In 1881, when Israels was 16, he sold a painting, Bugle Practice, even before it was finished to the artist and collector Hendrik Willem Mesdag.

In 1886 Israels registered at the Amsterdam Academy of Art to complete his schooling. However, he quickly abandoned the academy for the more progressive circle of the Tachtigers, an influential group of writers and artists of the time. This was a group that insisted style must reflect content and that emotionally charged subjects can only be represented by an equally intense technique. Influenced by this philosophy, Israels became a painter of the streets, cafes, and cabarets of Amsterdam. At this time he met the Dutch engraver and painter Willem de Zwart who also became a lifelong friend.

Israels moved to Paris in 1904, establishing his studio at 10 rue Alfred Stevens, near Montmartre and just yards away from the studio of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec whom he admired, as he also did Edgar Degas. As in Amsterdam, he painted the Parisian specific motifs: the public parks, cafes, cabarets and bistros, as well as such subjects as fairgrounds and circus acrobats. Likewise he sought out the fashion houses Paquin and Drecoll to continue his studies of the world of fashion. In 1923 he returned to his parent's home in The Hague, where his father's old studio became his new workplace. There, until his death, he produced his impressionist paintings with their bright and brilliant colors.

The composition is very intriguing as it gives the viewer the feeling of being outside looking through a window at a café. Three figures are sitting across from the window, a man is playing an instrument as the two women listen. The color palette and the brushwork reflect the artist's excellence.