The winter holidays are fast approaching. For Sotheby's New York, that means the annual auction of Judaica and Israeli Art. On Wednesday, December 14th, JCC Greenwich will enjoy an exclusive preview with Jennifer Roth, Senior Vice President of Israeli Art and Judaica, together with Rivka Saker, Managing Director of Sotheby’s Israel.
On the block are significant works spanning a century of Israeli art. Among those that have the cognoscenti readying their bids are several canvases by the pioneering Eretz Yisrael legend, Reuven Rubin. Rubin, who died in 1974, emerged in the 00s as Israel’s most sought-after 20th-century painter. With mounting demand and prices, his works can be expected to generate competitive bidding at the December 15th sale.
Painted in 1929, six years into his arrival in Palestine, Rubin’s Boy with Goldfish “expresses the optimism felt by the artist in a land teaming with new life,” to quote Roth. Asked to highlight another Rubin entry to watch, she responded by praising his “vibrant” Self-Portrait from the mid-1930’s.
Also in play is Moshe Castel’s Portrait of a Girl, circa 1925, which Roth described as “a rare, early work.” Collectors will additionally be tracking the 1951 Mordecai Ardon canvas entitled Parable of 1 x 1. From Joseph Zaritsky to Avigdor Stematsky, Ardon’s colleagues in the Modernist New Horizons movement have items of note here as well.
For connoisseurs of contemporary photography and video, there’s a considerable selection of desirable works from cutting edge makers. According to Roth, Ori Gersht’s photograph Chasing Good Fortune: Tokyo Imperial Memories, After Dark (shown) is sure to compell attention.
Marc Chagall's Juif à la Thora (pictured at the top) leads sale of this year’s Important Judaica, at an estimated $1,500,000/2,000,000. "The painting evokes his abiding love of the Jewish traditions he grew up with in Vitebsk," Roth observed.
Other Judaica highlights hail from the Shlomo Moussaieff Collection. Shlomo Moussaieff was a prominent Israeli businessman of Bukharan descent who primarily collected antiquities of the Bible and ancient Near East. At the time of his death last year at the age of 90, he had amassed an estimated 60,000 artifacts, specializing in early manuscripts and personal seals from the First and Second Temple periods.
Standouts include menorahs and candelabras encompassing the history of the Jewish Diaspora. Of Moussaieff’s fine art offerings, Simeon Solomon’s 1871 painting entitled Rabbi Carrying the Scrolls of the Law has its auctioneers especially excited.
Last December’s sales of Judaica and Israeli & International Art at the Upper East Side auction house came to $22.6 million. Just as many of last year's significant works ultimately exceeded their estimate, Roth and her colleagues are hoping that this year's international contingent of private bidders will once again drive up the price tags. More about art and commerce at Sotheby’s when JCC Greenwich goes to York Avenue next month.
Photos courtesy of Sotheby's New York
Juif à la Thora
Oil, tempera, and colored inks on canvas
36 1/4 by 28 3/4 in.
Executed circa 1968-1976.
Est. $1,500,000 – 2,000,000
Boy With Goldfish
Signed Rubin and again in Hebrew (lower right)
Oil on canvas
Painted in 1930.
34¼ by 25½ in.
88.3 by 64.8 cm
Important Judaica from the Shlomo Moussaieff Collection
Rabbi Carrying the Scrolls of the Law
Oil on canvas
Signed and dated 1871
30 3/8 by 24 inches