January 21, 2022

A drawing from my Bezalel era and a story

by Adi Tsimhoni

January 21, 2022

I was very lucky to study with the artist Miriam Gamburd. Her lessons were so exceptional that I requested permission from the Academy, and her, to continue to attend even after I’d finished my degree studies. Her class was always full.
This portrait was done during a lesson she taught us a special technique for oil painting using a dry brush on paper. I worked with a thick brush and it created the atmosphere of a linear sketch done in ink:
Untitled I, Adi Tsimhoni, oil on paper, 50X70 cm, detail

And here’s a story about a different portrait that Miriam posted this week. To me it sounds like a Japanese legend, but it’s real and it happened here, in Israel, in Ramat Gan.
Below you’ll find the said painting.


The Revenge of the Portrait / by Miriam Gamburd

In 2014, at a public auction at Christie’s London, the Ramat Gan Municipality sold a portrait of Maria Zetlin painted by Valentine Serov from the collection of the Russian Art Museum in Ramat Gan.
The sale provoked angry reactions, articles were written and there was even a citizens’ demonstration at the entrance to the Museum: They’re taking the best piece of art in Ramat Gan! The dearest! Prior to the sale, for some reason these art lovers were not familiar with the portrait and they had never visited the exhibition of the collection.
The Municipality justified the sale with the need to build a new museum containing a permanent space for the exhibition and preservation of the collection. The opening price for the painting (tempera on carton, 1910) was one and half million dollars. In the midst of the rebellion against its sale, the price escalated and in the end it was sold for 14 million dollars. The architect Meira Kovasky, who was to design the new museum, reported at a meeting of the Museum’s steering committee that an entire floor was going to be built for the exhibition and preservation of the collection. They thought about displaying a projected image of the Portrait of Maria Zetlin on one of the walls of the yet to be built museum.
The museum was built, it opened under a veil of scandal, the opening exhibit was taken down, the museum was closed, and the curator quit.
Do you want to know what happened to the collection? It’s on exhibit in the same drab hall on Chibat Zion Street.
The Maria Zetlin portrait got its revenge.


Maria Zetlin by V.Serov (Wikipedia)