Oil on board painting of figures in a synagogue interior, 24" by 17 5/8", unframed, signed at lower left by the important Russian-born Jewish artist who came to New York early in the twentieth century, leaving a significant mark on the visual arts, literature, and theatre. The work is titled "Synagogue" and "Jerusalem" near the signatures in both Hebrew and English, and is dated there 1946, just before the birth of the State of Israel. Recently professionally restored, it is in very good condition, needing only a frame. SAUL RASKIN (1878-1966) was born in Prymorsk, then Russia but today's Ukraine. He studied lithography in Odessa, then, came to New York, via Berlin and Paris. He arrived in the United States in 1904 or 1905 during the period of intense immigration from Europe. In New York's Lower East Side, the center of the city's large and growing Jewish community, he found fertile ground, first as a cartoonist and caricaturist for Yiddish publications. His first trip to the Holy Land in 1921 (the first of many, in the course of his life) reinforced Raskin's already very strong Jewish identity. The first exhibit of his artwork, encompassing painting, drawing, and printmaking, took place the very next year. In mid life and in his later years, Raskin went on to become a highly esteemed critic, writer, lecturer and teacher---an intellectual who greatly enriched the emerging Jewish-American culture in New York and beyond. He wrote and illustrated a number of books. In his writings about Jewish art, he sought to expound upon the commonality of themes, rather than a focus on techniques of various artists. In his late years Raskin was an ardent Zionist. Today his paintings are occasionally offered at auction in Israel and the United States. This rare example is a prize for the collector of Judaica and Jewish art. The signature is partly in sepia ink over paint; though part of the signature is entirely "in the paint". Completely below the signature, title and date, at the very lower edge, there is a bit of missing canvas, as seen in the pictures. There is a slight concave warp to the board (likely from old moisture exposure, of which there is evidence on the reverse side), which the restorer did his best to minimize but it is still present to a certain extent. What appears as craquelure in various spots, especially in the red curtain, is not paint instability---more likely old paint drying cracks. The paint is stable throughout the work.
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