b. Groningen, 1824 - d. Hague, 1911
Josef Israels was a Dutch Jewish painter born to the family of a money changer. He studied art with Cornelius Cruseman in Amsterdam and at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he, like others, learned to copy old masters' paintings in the Louvre. Under the guidance of Ary Sheffer, he executed a number of Biblical scenes in the Romantic style. While in Paris he also became acquainted with the Barbizon School. In 1847 Israels returned to Holland, where he painted portraits and historical subjects and frequently reverted to Jewish themes. He turned to rural themes - peasants, fishermen, and their milieu - in 1855, when he moved to the fishing village of Zandvoort for health reasons. He is considered one of the founders of The Hague School of Painting. Israels won great popularity in his lifetime for his poetic sensibility to light and color and for his openly sentimental approach.