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Samuel George Cahan
Vintage Illustration Judaica Painting, The Rabbi's (Men at Prayers)

$2,600

About

Genre: Judaica Subject: Religious Medium: Oil Surface: Canvas Country: United States Dimensions: 24" x 18" x 3/4" Dimensions w/Frame: 29" x 23" Cahan uses vibrant oil paint to draw a portrait of four elderly Jewish men wearing prayer shawls also known as tallits. The man in the foreground is staring pensively into the distance while the other figures in the background read or pray. Each character shares the same scholarly air in their serious expressions and mannerisms. Cahan’s gestural use of color and brush strokes soften the painting’s protagonists, thereby shedding a more sensitive light on the painting. The well-known twentieth century American illustrator, etcher, and painter Samuel George Cahan was born in Kovno, Russia, now part of Lithuania. His parents were both born in Russia during the early 1870’s. Two years after his birth, his family emigrated to America and eventually settled in New York City's Lower East Side. Cahan said that his interest for drawing started when he was only an infant. In a 1967 interview, the artist describes his primary school years as vastly disinteresting. While other students heeded their teachers or studied math, Cahan drew. At 12-years-old, Cahan exhibited his early talent for drawing on Fulton Street’s sidewalk. Barefoot and armed with chalk, he crouched outside a restaurant and drew the sinking of Maine. At the time, it was recognizable ship that was smashed by the British. One of the men who passed by his vibrant rendering of the wreckage was the Chief Editor of the New York World newspaper, Nelson Hersh. Upon seeing the young boy’s skill, Hersh offered him a job in the newspaper’s art department. During his time at the newspaper, he worked on sketching court trials and learned from other prominent American artists working in the art department, such as George Luks. After leaving the newspaper, he explored other artistic mediums that combined his love of color and line. From etchings on copper plates, he moved onto watercolor, and finally to oil. As an adult, he began to seriously study Fine art. Cahan first studied with the famous American artist Robert Henri. They would meet in the evenings along with other students including George Bellows and Stuart Davis. He continued his studies at the distinguished Art Students League of New York and eventually became a life member. Throughout his life, he exhibited his work with French & Company Gallery. In addition, he showed his work at the National Academy of Design where he was honored with several awards. “An artist is not a camera,” was one of Cahan’s favorite mottos. He applied this belief to all his paintings. The artist was a great supporter of Judaism and would often take his inspiration from the Jewish community. Whether landscapes or portraits, many of his works blend his interest in culture, color, and narratives. Cahan uses gestural line and brush strokes to create emotion masterpieces that connect to broad audiences. Although Cahan died in 1974, he left a legacy of artworks that chronicle the Jewish community in New York City.

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