To Ellen

This blog is made to the honor of my grandmother Ellen Elisabeth Thomsen who was a modern woman .
She was born in Randers in Denmark 1895 and died in Copenhagen 1976.
She had long salmon red hair down to her hips. It was braided and put up with lots of hairpins to make it look short.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Redbearded men painted or not painted by Kaufmann.

One of my absolute favorites is the painter Isidor Kaufmann.
His paintings are masterpieces each and every one of them.
But only few that carry his name were actually painted by him.
Between what he painted are some red bearded Jewish men.
Many Jewish families get a  red haired child. 
But as a contradiction to the average redheads,
they almost all have brown or green eyes.
Where as for instance red haired Egyptians or Palestinians , Sicilians
or redheads from Kutch , Indian, Afghanistan
have light lime colored eyes or very light blue eyes.
All the redheads in my family have or had red hair and blue eyes. 
I don't know how it is in Ireland who is famous for its redheads.
But  there are many black haired Irish, who married blond haired spouses,
That mix can give red hair with green or brown eyes.

I start with this marvelous portrait one of my absolute favorites!
The only totally red haired man with red beard, that I have noticed he painted.
I guess a big part of  his production disappeared during the Nazi time.
So what is left are only few works.
Every new work that suddenly pop up, I look at with great curiosity.

Isidor Kaufmann

An outstanding picture.
There was a tradition to paint old bearded men on the European Academies.
You can find this portraits being sold in many Auctions houses in Europe today..
They don't depict Jewish men, just old men with big beards.
Still at the Repin Academy in Russia learning to paint old men are one of the disciplines.
So in this way Kaufmann was not different from others in his lifetime.
What makes his pictures outstanding are the sincere psychological insight he seems to have.
And a strong sense of beauty .His pictures are always perfectly in Harmony. 
The compositions are so beautiful !

 The hat this young man wears is strange.
 It doesn't look like any regular skullcap (Kippa or Yarmulke),
 but rather like an old  Roman helmet or like a Viking helmet without the horns.
But perhaps it is a Moroccan or Ottoman embroidered skullcap?
Oriental overlaid embroidery was in fashion all over Europe.
 Where people all over Europe had loved Orientalism and Exoticism.

This is where Kaufmann is free. His ability to paint realistic  is so extreme that we tend to believe it is realism and that he used a model for his persons. 
But I think not. Most of his portraits are fantasy. 
He had a special liking for the little round mouth with rather broad lips. 
He paints the same mouth on almost all his pictures, on man or woman or child!
That is also why I believe the persons are constructed and only existed in his imaginations.
Besides back  then religious Jews would have not agreed to sit and get painted ,
since this goes against one of the 10 commandments.

When you paint a mouth or look at your own
in the mirror, you tend to put the lips a bit, when concentrating.
This you don't always notice when painting a self portrait.
(Even painters who paint others portrait put their lips when concentration on "doing" the mouth.)

Since there were so few Jewish painters, their pictures are very demanded by Jewish collectors.
And that is why there are so many fake Kaufmann portraits.
But I think there are ways to see if  his pictures are real or fake by comparing them to each other.
It has to do with thinking and studying Kaufmann very seriously.  
Look at the above painting for instance.
 There is a consequent  folding of the different layers of clothes.
 The white caftan  under the prayer shawl ,which is normally used for the Jewish New Year,
   is folded right on left, the inner jacket seemingly the same right on left  
and perhaps also the one that you vaguely see.
but then the inner shirt is left on right. 
This he shows to tell:  this person is aware, is consequent 
and  has full order over his material life as well as  his mental life
Another notice :How do you make the beard glow in strong orange?
When the whole picture is in warm colors.The 2 tiny light blue color endings of the shirt collar 
weighs up all that red and orange.

A slight squinting comes when you paint  yourself !
When you stare at one eye with both eyes and paint it 
and then stare at the other with both and paint that one. 
The tiny distance between your eyes makes a perspective jump!

So often the eyes on a self portrait will seem out of focus, as if each eye stare at something else.
But here  in Kaufmann's portrait the squinting is of another kind
 It is a trick used to show the person is clever.
Emphasizing that  this person is so bright that he can do and think of several things at the same time.
Or perhaps showing the doubting and associative mind that learned Jews are so famous of . 
Always questioning every fact  and finding all possible angles of every statement and though.

The next picture I feel could be a fake.
The same man is used but he is not painted in Kaufmann's sensual way.

 Isidor Kaufmann.
Supposed to be!

There are several  problems in this picture.
The man is not squinting.
The ear sits wrong or has a wrong angle and is not in shadow
like it should be, if one is consequent and follow the shadows on  the coat.
 The person is placed exactly in the picture center, which is always a bad idea!!!
The fur brim seem too slim.
The background is dead. The man express no deep feelings.
 There is not enough shoulder under the sleeve.
 It seems like he or  the person who made the copy took the coat from another of Kaufmann's pictures
and added this head. But one doesn't feel the head sit on a neck because the shadow on the jacket doesn't match the one on his head. And there is no shadow in the beard! 
Kaufmann would never have signed a picture which is not ready.
Good artists don't sign anything before they are sure their painting is good enough and can live it's own life.

Isidor Kaufmann

A wonderful portrait
As you can see the portrait above this one, loaned this frock and chair , but the copyist was not
clever enough to paint the shoulder with all its shadows and give an exact feeling of which kind of material the  frock is made of.The background is wonderful and so interesting to look at.

The folding of the jacket  and inner waistcoat are not done to the same direction
Which is a trick to make it more interesting.
Everyone knows male cloths are buttoned from one side and female from the other.
But here is is thinking and not reality.It looks better this way.

Isidor Kaufmann
 Photo of a photo of the painting called "The Kabalist"

This photo I found in a sale on E-bay from a very expensive book about Isidor Kaufmann 
 Der Judenmaler Isidor Kaufmann,
Hermann Menkes

"The Jewpainter Isidor Kaufmann by Herman Menkes."

It was printed 1925 , Isidor Kaufmann died 1921,
 therefor it is possible, that this is the original painting,
 that all the others are pretending to be. 
I find it as a portrait more interesting than the copies.
Compare the noses on all 4 pictures and 
see that this above seem to be only realistically convincing nose.
Look how well everything is painted all materials can be recognized!

Fake? Isidor Kaufmann

Even if it's a nice copy and anyone should be pleased to own this one, it is still only a copy.
The coat is not painted as detailed as Isidor would have done.

The fur hat is not painted with details, look how the picture above has shiny fur!
Besides many other lacking things ,the beard and hair are not matched together color-wise. The hair is too black! And the beard to red !
The beard is not seen in the same light as the rest.
And therefore has no shadows and highlights that meat the rest of the light.
 The beard seem unnatural and without details. 
The color of the background gets too dark close to the figure. 
The tip of the nose has a wrong highlight. 
The books on his left side are too tiny and the perspective in them
 doesn't fit the perspective of the shelf under them,
 The shelf is also  more steep on the left side, than the other side
All Isidor's persons closed their mouths !!!
The old idea when raising your kids was telling them : Close your mouth and look intelligent!!!
The background is dead,very unlikely a decision Kaufmann would have taken.
 This is a mirrored copy of a painting called the Kabbalist .

Which I show below.
The frame on that picture is named Professor B Sachs.
So the frame doesn't belong to this picture!
Professor B Sachs was perhaps the famous Neurologist. Bernhard Sachs 
One of the duo who described and isolated the disease Taysachs 
I wonder what happened to his portrait? It has been missing for years.
It was supposed to have been painted by the Swiss born artist Adolfo Müller-Ury
Who painted rather boring portraits of the Presidents of America.

So compare the picture below with the one above.
Look at the differences.  

The Kabbalist
Supposed to be  a real  Isidor Kaufmann

The hands are very small compared to the face.  An easy mistake to do.
The candle on the wall cast a shadow, but nothing else does,
 except for the book who casts a too strong shadow on one hand, 

so it gets to look colored, compared to the other hand.
There is almost no shadow on the chair.
The table sits too close to his stomach.
I am not convinced
that Isidor would make such a mistakes.
But it could be one of his early paintings.

Lately another portrait of the same man as above showed up! 
This time with an amazing frame on 
 it has a Chinese altar piece in the background
As if this type of  religious Jew back then, 
had paintings or other decorations,
 which were not of strictly Jewish religious context hanging at home?
Again one of Isidor Kaufmanns personal liking.
The background silk hanging in this picture below is actually a copy of a hanging that 
Kaufmann used for the fine portrait that hangs on TATE Gallery
Look at:

Notice that in this picture above Isidor used  the same 
embroidered Hebrew text as Alois Priechenfried
and the same background hanging!

Alois Priechenfried

Antique Chinese  Foo Lion hanging

Now the hat shrunk to fit the likes of Bohusher Jews!

Another version of the same painting is underneath,
 where the man suddenly got brown beard instead.

But the face is distorted as if the nose sits wrong.
Supposedly same chair, but a mess in the background with the books.
A rather bad copy or attempt to make a new unknown Isidor Kaufmann painting.
Again the hands are too small and stolen from another picture.

Looks like the same person made the 3 last fakes.

Must be a fake Isidor Kaufmann 

I hate to desiccating this picture , but it is too full of mistakes.
The copyist has been using the same fabric under the books as in the fake painting 2 pictures above.
A pathetic idea that this would make the fake look more real.
Also bad composition with the row of books jumping up and down. 
Which make his inner skirt look like a book too.
Too bad that Wikigallery advertises this as an original painting of Kaufmann.
The chair got rather tiny? And one of the extreme tiny hands looks dead in the color compared to the other.
 I can go on  there are a million bad things in this copy.
Stupid idea to paint striped fabric in the same colors as the books with the stripes the same way.
The books behind jumps in front of the person. 
The folds on the frock has no character .
Something is totally wrong in the composition of the arms, hands, coat and book. All lines end up in a star.
That is an unacceptable mistake which no good artist ever would make!!! 
 All in all a  bad copy! 

Again a supposed Isidor Kaufmann

As You can see it could have been a mirrored sketch for the picture the Kabbalist.
The beard is more natural in the color here
There is a problem with the Fur hat. As if it got an extra layer of fur added.
The signing  is doubtful  and one can see it is dirty around the signing as if erased
and a new attempt was made.
I doubt that Kaufmann who was so extremely consequent with the details
and so particular with every little millimeter, would have signed  a sketch?

And here we have another of the same guy again
This time a copy of a copy?

Supposedly Isidor Kaufmann
from the Stern Gallery in Tel Aviv.

Good artists don't sign sketches! A sketch is made as a preparing for a painting
and is not signed so it can be sold. Can't tell it enough times!
And specially not in the middle of the painting!
He looks like he is getting strangled ,the head doesn't fit the body!

Isidor Kaufmann
Pehaps ?

Lately a new unknown Isidor Kaufmann portrait is found in Russia shown on this
site who plant their ugly owner stamp across the painting.
This is a wonderful portrait , but one of the more excellent students from the Repin Academy could
have produced it. The problem is that Isidor invented his persons, and this seem a real portrait.
Very sensitive and beautiful though, but most likely not a Kaufmann.
But again Isidor Kaufmann would never have signed an unfinished portrait.
And he would never have put so much work in the face and then so little on the coat and background.
But the face is really very very beautiful and sensitively  painted.
A pity that  a talented artist have to make "look a likes" and can't sign it with his own name.
And again it's a variation of the painting for the Kabbalist.
But here the beard got darker.
And perhaps the expression as if he says brrrr with his rather thin lips is not so Kaufmann like?
Remember most of Kaufmanns mouths are small but have very full pouting lips.

Isidor Kaufmann

A wonderful portrait sketch!

And a new attempt from a Russian site

Supposed to  be Isidor Kaufmann
Look at the prayer shawl how it changed.
It is understandably that many fakes exist,
 when Kaufmanns work reach up to 100000 $ on auctions.

Fake Isidor Kaufmann

Again a  very bad copy.
Good artists never sign in the middle of a painting,
as if the name takes a slide down on the sitters shoulder!
The painter who made this couldn't decide if he want to copy the above or the below
and made something in between.

Isidor Kaufmann

Again it's a construction?
 A teacher "Melamed " would not wear the prayer shawl , called a Tallit
when teaching a student. It is only worn when  praying or walking back home from the Synagogue.
I am not sure of this picture either.
 There are some strange things in it, that seems to be in contrast to Kaufmanns
 very precise choice of what to show and what not !

 Real Kaufmann or not  it is very talented painted and very sincere in the expressions.
Underneath is a "new" Kaufmann . Obviously of the same two persons ,

wearing the same clothes expect for the prayer shawl.
Again it seem weird to me. He was not a man who painted portraits, but someone who painted ideas. 

Why would he construct the same persons twice? 
I mean if you were going to paint a fake Kaufmann,
 would it not be smart looking at what he made so fare,
 and discover, that this man did not copy himself ever!
And then paint another picture in his spirit ,not necessary another picture of religious Jews!
 Isidor Kaufmann

I can understand the reason to wear the fur hat for a portrait.
 But for a situation of indoor studying ,
it seems weird that they both are dressed so warm and wear  fur hats!
Composition wise it is lacking several cm down. This makes the picture look cut!

Letting the tablecloth bend outwards seem wrong and steal from the teachers volume. I would have bend it inwards  This way the two lines in the tablecloth and his contour against the chair would not be identical which jumps out  in the eyes of the viewer.
Also placing the chairs arm-leaning exactly so it continues in the bending of the table is a mistake which destroy the feeling of dept. The line of the material that lie under the book the boy studies from,
 stand up on one side. A mistake that would be unlike Kaufmann to do.
Not sure this is  a real Kaufmann.

For those who don't know it,  there are many fractions of Jews.
The religious ones  follow Rabbis who have different interpretations of the Scriptures,
The different fractions show their belonging  trough the clothes and hats.
Some wear  a black suit, others black silk caftans or white silk caftans with or without stripes.
Some have long black pants others wear knickers or a short or long frocks in black
Some wear a black Hat and others a Fur brimmed hat called a Shtreimel and some wear only a skullcap.
Those who wear hats have a scull cap underneath.

Something seems wrong in the combination of the black silk Caftan
and a normal Russian fur hat in this picture!
Some religious Jews wear  fur hats, but not Russian fur hats like the Rabbi,
 wears in the two pictures above.
They wear a wheel made from what seems to once have been Bisam fur.
Brown and very silky ,not like today black Bear fur, which is shiny and hard,
 The Muff which women once wore to warm their hands in was also made from bear furs..


A modern Shtreimel

Bohuiser Shtreimel

 Old Ruzhiner Shreimel 


Cake made to look like Fur hat
for the after following marriage party
of  a hassidic Jew called Shabat Hratan
First Saturday after the marriage where the whole family
celebrate the married son.

Some other Jewish hats not so interesting to paint of cause!

Breshlawer                 Lubavitcher                Vishnever
It is so nice with hats  why don't we all wear hats
I'd like one of Igor Samsonovs if I was brave enough to walk around with it

Sorry I don't make fun of anyone just wan't to be a bit less serious.

Isidor Kaufmann
Hard to know which pictures are fake and which are really painted by Kaufmann.

Judge for your self ,if you want to invest money in a newly discovered Kaufmann,
Look at all the others and compare, if it is really beautiful ,who cares if Kaufmann painted it.
But perhaps it should not be that expensive?
Would you buy it to this price if it said fake Kaufmann?

Found in a Russian Site
Many similar pictures of the same man exists.

This seem real to me.

Isidor Kaufmann
Could be the same as above but in a rather insensitive restoration.
The closest eye is rather rough painted and seem too big for the perspective
and the two eyes do not focus on the same spot as in the picture above.

So be aware it you are the one who suddenly find an unknown Kaufmann! 
There are so many copies being made all the time.
Chinese Painters are really professional and very clever in their work. 
With the use of Adobe photo shop it is easy to construct a new
combined copy and then paint it.

Isidor Kaufmann
Look at the same closer eye and line of  the upper lid,
It is obviously not the same picture as the one above it.

Isidor Kaufmann

The top of the Shtreimel is different.
Now the closer Eye hang.
And the prayer shawl really got dirty.
I suppose the gold embroidery would have been shiny back then
and  not have a 150 year old patina!
The background is not even one can see that the
one who painted this has problems with the shoulder, whom he diminished.
Also the Collar of the prayer shawl was reduced.
I am not sure it is s real Kaufmann.

Just a few minutes ago I found this one in a Russian site

Not the same as the above.
It is a smaller painting and 
you can see the prayer shawl on the other side as well

Then this picture turns up by Lazer Krestin
Now this is strangely similar.

Lazer Krestin

So what do we have here? Is this really a work of Krestin or is it a copy of a mirrored Kaufmann?
It seems real ,the twisted ear curls seem real.
The eyes seem to belong to a real person and not imagined.
I mirrored this picture and judge for yourself

Lazer Krestin mirrored and \Isidor Kaufmann not

Did the eyes switch side  ?
Lets think teacher Kaufmann and student Krestin paints at the same time a man who sits for them.
It is normal that your pictures have some kind of leaning towards right or left.You can correct this mistake if looking at your portrait in a mirror over your shoulder.
Lazer Krestins picture has a strong leaning towards  left when you mirror his picture it is obvious !

Lets see the same two pictures where only Kaufmann's picture  is mirrored

Kaufmann is mirrored and Krestins not
Something in Kaufmann's picture seems wrong.It doesn't have a real preference to one side,
 like Krestins did. But in Kaufmann's picture things are not explained well! The inner arm seem wrong and the beard jumps too fare out.The collar seem too dark , Kaufmanns picture seem constructed,where as Krestins seem to have been painted after a real person and he did not correct his mistakes. What I find weird is  the fact that the eyes seem to have been switched. On Kaufmanns picture the eyes are correct. 
On Krestin's the inner eye got to be the broadest. 
Don't know what to think.One of this two guys used the other persons picture which he mirrored before he painted this new picture.

Isidor Kaufmann
Very nice!
He is wearing a typical Bohusher Shtreimel which was taller and slimmer  than other Shtreimels.

It took some hours learning about all this Jewish hats on the Internet.
Don't Think I ever get the opportunity to paint one.
But who knows.

An Auction house called Winner's write :

"It was typical of Kaufmann to paint the same image more than once, with slight difference, 
per the requests of the people who ordered his works."

This I can not agree with ,the slight differences are often fakes!
But then who would not buy another New Kaufmann if this  was true.

To weigh up all this bearded I finish the post with a redhaired woman

Isidor Kaufmann
Lady at her desc

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