(b. 1824, Groningen, d. 1911, Scheveningen)


Dutch painter and etcher, often called the "Dutch Millet". He was, during his lifetime, the most internationally celebrated Dutch painter of the 19th century and a leader of the Hague School. He was particularly noted for his scenes of life among the Dutch fishing and peasant communities.

He was born in Groningen, of Jewish parents. His father, Hartog Abraham Israels, intended for him to be a man of business, and it was only after a determined struggle that he was allowed to enter on an artistic career. He began his studies in Amsterdam and from 1845 to 1847 worked in Paris under the academic painters Horace Vernet and Paul Delaroche. Israëls first tried to establish himself as a painter of Romantic portraits and conventional historical pictures but had achieved little success when in 1855 ill health compelled him to leave Amsterdam for the fishing village of Zandvoort, near Haarlem. That change of scenery revolutionized his art: he turned to realistic and compassionate portrayals of the Dutch peasantry and fisherfolk. In 1871 he moved to The Hague, and he often worked in nearby Scheveningen.

Besides oils, Israëls worked in watercolours and was an etcher of the first rank. His later works in all media express a tragic sense of life and are generally treated in broad masses of light and shade. His painting style was influenced by Rembrandt's later works, and, like Rembrandt, Israëls often painted the poor Jews of the Dutch ghettos.

His son Isaac, also a painter, adopted an Impressionist technique and subject matter and had some influence on his father's later work.

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