At the beach - Portrait of Martha Salomon signed 'ISAAC ISRAELS' (lower right) oil on canvas 79 x 59.5cm (31 1/8 x 23 7/16in).
PROVENANCE: Acquired directly from the artist by the sitter thence by descent
One of Isaac Israels' favoured scenes at the turn of the century was the beach at Scheveningen. He portrayed well-to-do ladies parading along the boulevard, donkeys with children on their backs, bathing girls as well as his social circle which included the leading poets and writers of the Eighties Movement. This included his portrait of Dorothea Dina Estella Hijmans completed in 1898, which is listed in The Netherlands Institute for Art History, The Hague. The present lot shares a similar sophisticated composition. Martha is portrayed with a parasol and flower laden hat against a bright blue sky, and the beach at Scheveningen. Israels depicts her with skilful strokes and an accurate hand. The size of the painting and the use of fresh colours, which differ from many beach scenes by the artist and typify a hot day in early summer, make this an exception work.
Martha Salomon (1870-1923) grew up in bustling environment of The Hague during the fin-de-siècle. Highly educated, she took drawing lessons from Jan Veth, a painter, art critic and member of the Eighties Movement and well known acquaintance of Israels. A few years after her portrait was completed, Salomon travelled to Germany, where she became a governess. Taking her treasured portrait with her, it was hung in the employers living room (see illustration). Her employers become friends with and maintain contact with the artist, as well as through her friend Jan Veth, for whom she translated his book on Albrecht Durer into German. Salomon died of cancer in 1923. Her portrait, together with several other works by Israels and also by Jan Veth were gifted to her German employer.