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William Weintraub
The Shepard Boy, Modern Mid-Century Israeli Painting



In an ever-changing art world that embraces one movement after the next, the timeless art of portraiture can become lost. Portraiture is often associated with the royal paintings of centuries-old French kings, European nobility, and other wealthy individuals from art history's past. However, styles like Social Realism and Dutch genre painting spotlighted everyday people and made them powerful subjects for portraiture. Rather than illuminating jewels, thrones, and fine regalia, artists painted the natural beauty of a working woman or the quiet sadness of an impoverished child. Artist William Weintraub approaches his work in a manner reminiscent of the first Social Realists when capturing his subjects, the vibrant and intriguing people of Israel. Born in 1926, Weintraub grew up in Baltimore and studied at the Maryland Institute of Art. While attending, he had the opportunity to study under the artist Jacques Maroger who also served as the technical director for the Louvre Museum's laboratory in Paris. Two years after completing school, Weintraub joined the U.S. Merchant Marines in 1944 and traveled to Europe and the Mediterranean. These trips proved critical for his art because of the wealth of subjects and inspiration available to him. In 1947, he joined the SS Hatikva crew and helped move Jewish refugees from Europe to the Palestinian area. When the ship was obstructed from its next destination, Weintraub was held at a detention camp in Cyprus. After his short detainment at Cyprus, Weintraub briefly joined the Israeli Merchant Navy before settling in Tel Aviv. Feeling at home, he decided to devote all his time toward art and began to craft his signature portraits of Israeli people and life. By 1955, he began crafting a large catalog of paintings and lithographs depicting people at work, children at play, and contemplative elderly citizens of Israel. Rather than creating formal portraits, his subjects feel like quick, sudden snapshots in time or moments frozen in a glimpse. The simply titled paintings Two Girls and Girl show Israeli children, in traditional dress, engaged in their daily activities. These works are reminiscent of the 17th century Dutch genre scenes with elements of Social Realism. The Two Girls emote strong yet distant expressions while they carry baskets, and Girl appears full of glee while she plays by a cobblestone street. The particularly powerful work Old Woman reveals a pensive yet calm elderly citizen who emanates that undeniable emotion of a long life. Weintraub had a penchant for depicting the lives of anonymous yet intriguing citizens, and these works served as a reminder of their importance to Israel. Weintraub did, however, immortalize famous Israeli figures in his paintings as well. The piece David Ben-Gurion is a classically painted portrait of the Israeli statesman who became the first Prime Minister of Israel. Executed in fine detail, the painting possesses a limited color palette of rusted shades and ivory. Even though Weintraub has little recognition in the U.S., he's quite renowned in Israel and has been exhibiting since the 1950s.


  • Creator
  • Dimensions
    Height: 29.5 in. (74.93 cm)Width: 22 in. (55.88 cm)
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Period
  • Condition
    Measurements include frame. frame has minor wear.
  • Gallery Location
    Bal Harbour, FL
  • Reference Number
    Seller: 3581stDibs: LU3822535003

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    Ships From: Bal Harbour, FL
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About the Seller
4.9 / 5
Located in Bal Harbour, FL
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