Rubin Zelicovici (later Reuven Rubin) was born in Galilee to a poor Romanian Jewish Hasidic family. He was the eighth of 13 children. In 1912, he left for Ottoman-ruled Palestine to study art at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. Finding himself at odds with the artistic views of the Academy's teachers, he left for Paris, France, in 1913 to pursue his studies at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. At the outbreak of the First World War, he was returned to Romania, where he spent the war years.

In 1921, he traveled to the United States with friend and fellow artist Arthur Kolnik, with whom he had shared a studio in Cernǎuţi, Romania. In New York, the two met artist Alfred Stieglitz, who was instrumental in organizing their first American show at the Anderson Gallery. Following the exhibition, in 1922, they both returned to Europe. In 1923, Rubin emigrated to Mandate Palestine.

Rubin met his wife, Esther, in 1928, aboard a passenger ship to Palestine on his return from a show in New York. She was a girl from the Bronx who had won a trip to Palestine in a Young Judea competition.


Safed in Galilee

Creation Date: 1927

Still Life with Flowers

This still life of a vase of flowers is a masterwork of Reuvin Rubin's late career. The bouquet explodes with loose, airy, expressionistic brushwork and bright, layered colors. A current stirs a sheer blue panel nearby, visibly wafting up the flowers' scent. Rubin continued to paint literally to the day he died in 1974. This 'simple' work reflects a sense of optimism, perhaps the confidence of his own maturity and of Israel's steady growth.

Long regarded as Israel's "national artist," Rubin helped pioneer an indigenous style of art in the country. In the past decade, he has emerged as the most sought–after 20th–century Israeli painter. His work figures in numerous museum collections around the world. At Sotheby's 2008 annual auction of Israeli and international art, his works accounted for six of the top 10 lots. Rubin's large 1963–64 painting of flowers on a windowsill sold there above its estimate. This untitled 1965 painting, however, has remained part of his family's collection. It is in absolute mint condition, only displayed in museum venues under expert archival care, and has never before been sold to a private client.

Medium: Oil on Canvas
Size: 65 x 54 in
Creation Date: 1965


In this moody expressionistic work painted late in Rubin's career, a window opens on a grove of trees that appear to be possessed. Dancing or writhing, they dominate the goatherds standing still in the distance. While flowers spring up in the foreground, the dark hollows in the trees and the restrained palette tinges this image of rebirth with sorrow and angst.

This painting is one of the signature works of Reuven Rubin, widely regarded as one of the most important Israeli Jewish artists of the 20th century and the father of Israeli art. His work figures in numerous museum collections around the world. This painting featured in his autobiography, Rubin: My Life, My Art, and has remained part of his family's collection. It has been displayed in museums but has never before been available to a private collector.

Medium: Oil on Canvas
Size: 65 x 54 in
Creation Date: 1965


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