there is a label 'Midsummer' verso and remains of an old gallery label or exhibition label. Samuel Rothbort (Russian American Jewish folk artist 1881-1972) was born in the small town, shtetl of Wolkovisk in the Russian Woodlands.During his youth he worked as a cantor and traveled to various towns and villages, gaining many impressions of life in that era. Poverty as well as the political unrest of the times led to his immigration to America in 1904. Upon arrival in America, Samuel Rothbort worked as a laborer and muralist eventually giving that up to become a watchman of newly built homes. While on duty he began molding figures in clay and upon the advice and encouragement of his employer and colleagues he began to take his artistic talents more seriously and pursued this endeavor. Rothbort therefore began doing free-hand painting, murals on walls and ceilings for private homes and commercial establishments. In 1909 he met and married Rose Kravitz, which marked the start of his career as an artist. Well known for his scenes of New York City life, executed in heavy impasto. Rothbort exhibited from the 1920s-60s, at the Salons of America, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn Museum, and a gallery at Rockefeller Center; however, he refused to sell his work, and in 1948, opened the Rothbort Home Museum of Direct Art, in his studio-home.
Samuel Rothbort was a self taught outsider artist painting every subject in his own folk art impressionistic style. His artistic range was broad and he never stopped creating. He was fascinated with nature and his works are filled with his delightful perceptions of his surroundings. Rothbort worked in oil, watercolor, and pen & ink. In the years of the depression there was little money, Rothbort could not afford paint or canvas. It was there that he began carving wood and stone using found materials like driftwood, rails, and old fence posts.
Rothbort entered the art world and spent much of his life in pursuit of modernist painting and sculpture. He was a member the Society of Independent artists, the Salons of America, the People's Art Guild, and the Brooklyn Society of Artists. During the 1920's and early 1930's , Samuel Rothbort was regularly represented in exhibitions organized by The Brooklyn Museum of Art. Through the 1930's , Rothbort exhibited his watercolors and sculptures at Grant Studios in Brooklyn. In 1940, he began a 28 year relationship with the Barzansky Gallery on Madison Avenue in New York City exhibiting oils, watercolors, and sculpture in individual and group shows.
From 1915 through the 1960's, he was represented by many commercial galleries. Hamilton Easter Field, artist, publisher and founder of the Brooklyn Society of Artists was an early supporter of Rothbort's art work and helped further his career.
Rothbort received much recognition for his naive folk art paintings which he often displayed in unique primitive frames that he had hand-carved he is also known for his social realist street scene paintings. In 1952, Rothbort wrote a book on his sculpture, entitled "Out of Wood and Stone", which he dedicated to Hamilton Easter Field. A significant expression for Samuel Rothbort's career occurred in the late 1930's through the 1940's when he began painting "memory paintings " or recreation of his boyhood experiences of life in the ghettos and surrounding areas of the woodlands and marshes of Polesia - White Russia. A prized winning documentary, "Memories of The Shtetl" was produced by Harriet Semegram (previously titled " The Ghetto Pillow ") and shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival. It utilized 215 of Samuel Rothbort's watercolors and became the major visual resource material for Jerome Robbins movie and play, " Fiddler On The Roof ". Another award winning documentary, " The Lost Wooden Synagogues of Eastern Europe " which was produced by Albert Barry and Florida Atlantic University, used many of Rothbort's paintings in the film to show life in pre-war Eastern Europe. The film was shown at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and on Public Television.
He was a member of The Brooklyn Soc. of Artists; Soc. of Indp. Artists; and Brooklyn WCC. He exhibited at the SIA, 1917-40; Pratt Inst., 1919-22; Salons of Am., 1922-34; Brooklyn Mus., 1922-33; Charles Barzansky Gal., NY, 1940-44; Jewish Mus., NYC, 1984-85. His works hang in the NMAA; Brooklyn Mus.; Heckscher Mus.; Mus. of Stony Brook; Montclair AM; Sardoni AG; and Rutgers Univ. AG. Samuel was best known for his scenes painted in and around NYC. He had a bold style marked by heavy impasto.
Selected Solo Exhibitions:
2003 New York, NY; Luise Ross Gallery
New York, NY; Hollis Taggart Galleries
1998 East Hampton, NY; Morgan Rank Gallery
New York, NY; Benjamin Cardozo Gallery, Yeshiva University Museum
1997 New York, NY; Giampietro Gallery
1985 Brooklyn, NY; Chassidic Art Institute
1968, 64 New York, NY; Kaufman Art Center
1940-6, 54, 56, 61, 65 New York, NY; Charles Barzansky Galleries
1960 Chicago, IL; Welna Gallery
1940 Brooklyn, NY; Tilden Gallery
1938 Brooklyn, NY; Lincoln Gallery
1934 Brooklyn, NY; Grant Studios
Selected Group Exhibitions:
1998 Huntington, NY; Heckscher Museum, Celebrating New York:
A Centennial Exhibition
1984-86 New York, NY; The Jewish Museum, The Jewish Heritage in
American Folk Art (Travelling exhibition)
1968 New York, NY; National Arts and Antiques Show
1940-68 New York, NY; Charles Barzansky Galleries
1964 Bethesda, MD; Chevy Chase Gallery
1963 Huntington, NY; Heckscher Museum
1944 Richmond, VA; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
1917-23, 25-31, 34, 38-40 New York, NY; Society of Independent Artists
1939 New York, NY; Academy of Allied Arts Gallery
1937-39 New York, NY; Vendome Gallery
1934, 39 New York, NY; Fifteen Gallery
1936-37 New York, NY; Municipal Art Commission
1932-36 Brooklyn, NY; Grant Studios
1923, 24, 25, 26, 36 Brooklyn, NY; Plymouth Institute, Beecher Gallery
1922, 23, 25, 27, 31, 34, 35 Brooklyn, NY; Brooklyn Museum of Art
1922, 23, 24, 25, 30, 34 Brooklyn, NY; Salons of America
1934 New York, NY; The Forum
1932, 33, 34 Hempstead, NY; Art League of Nassau County
1932 Brooklyn, NY; Painter and Sculptors Gallery
1924, 25, 30 New York, NY; Anderson Galleries
1922, 23 New York, NY; Galleries of American Art Association
1919 Brooklyn, NY; Pratt Institute, Art Gallery
Brooklyn, NY; Ardsley Studios
1917-19 Brooklyn, NY; Pouch Gallery
1915, 17 New York, NY; Peoples Art Guild
Samuel Rothbort's work is in many public and private collections, which include the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.