Nahum Gutman Museum of Art - English מוזיאון נחום גוטמן לאמנות Image Map

Where are the Paintings of Maaravi-Marovne?

18.12.14 - 30.04.15

Sing Our Youth

 David Maaravi - The Lost Student of Boris Schatz 

Curator: Nurit Tal-Tenne


“Everyday all these individuals, dubbed “Bezalelians” sat on boxes, painting. One would meet them on the mountains, in the valleys, in the allies. All were self-searching, looking for their connection to the land. They shared a common ground of shapes, light and colors. They would walk the land, the cities, the villages, yet they were misunderstood – to the extent that the “Bezalel” institution, which still operates today, never bothered to keep any trace of these “Bezalelians”, not even a small collection of paintings. Where are the paintings of Yossef Levin? And where are the pictures of Maaravi-Marovne RIP, known as Don Pedro? And the sculptures of Binyamin Uriel?”


I found the paintings and sketches of David Maaravi-Marovne (1896-1945) in the attic of his daughter, Behira Tal. Real treasures can be discovered not only with the help of maps, sometimes it is sheer coincidence that unveils them. While visiting Tal, I noticed on the living room walls of her humble-yet-meticulous home, impressive works: portraits, pencil sketches on paper, some with watercolors highlights, delicate sketches of a true artist.

During one of our visits, Tal produced from the attic a paper treasure – the estate of her father, the well known song composer and music teacher of Pre-Israel Tel Aviv, David Maaravi. Revealed before me were a few oil painting on small canvases, classic still life compositions in oil and watercolor, as well as old, yellowed little sketchbooks, that appeared to be bound by hand. In the sketchbooks are mostly graphite and pencil sketches, as well as sketches enhanced by watercolor and ink.


The sketches appear on both sides of the pages and use the page’s tiny dimensions to their full extent. Among the pages we can glimpse the landscapes of Ahuzat-Bait, or early twentieth century Tel Aviv, in the illustrations of the emerging city: its small tile-roofed houses, with chickens roaming their back yards; a few trees and a single power pole: a group of bathers sunbathing on the beach; merchants in the Jaffa Port, and other scenes from every day life.


Also depicted in the sketches are characters typical of the Bezalelian paintings of that period, such as: Yamanites with Payot (side curls); a group of Eastern Jews, clad in holy garments dancing with the Torah in the synagogue during Simchat Torah; Fez wearing Turks on their donkeys; and other characters from the beginning of the twentieth century, as well as caricatures of figures with big noses and grotesque visages, and illustrations of mass comic scenes.


But above all, it is clear that Maaravi’s main subject of interest was the documentation of realist, figurative portraits: self-portraits, portraits of family members and acquaintances, particularly portraits of children and youth, which he adored. His love for the youth and his interest in them was manifest in the many portraits that he sketched as well as in his choice to mainly compose children's songs.


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