The Artist's Family
In this group portrait, which was included in an exhibition at David's Tower in 1926, Reuven Rubin depicted his family as if posing for a carefully staged family photograph; yet in contrast to the conventions of contrived studio photography, here the figures pose in the open air. The mother is seated in the middle ground of the composition, surrounded by her children Reuven, Yitzhak, and Chana, who were all reunited after immigrating to the land of Israel (following their father's death in Romania). Rubin made a deliberate decision to depict his family in a landscape of olive trees with silvery foliage - a setting that is clearly part of his new homeland.
Rubin took care to distinguish his special position in this family gathering in terms of both his pose and his external appearance: the paintbrush and palette in his hands are attributes of his profession. He is wearing red slippers and a loose shirt of the kind worn by Jewish pioneers, and is seated on a straw stool in accordance with local custom; his appearance attests to his assimilation in the country, and distinguishes him from the rest of the family members, whose buttoned-up appearance hints at their recent arrival.
This group portrait accurately represents the new, naive style of painting that Rubin developed following his arrival in the country, and which was inspired by the painter Henri Rousseau. Rubin examined his new environment like a child discovering the world, and devoted himself to every detail (such, for example, as the wild flowers in his sister's hand) with meticulous attention. He portrayed the local environment in an optimistic light, and in contrast to his paintings from Romania, such as Temptation in the Desert, this painting seems to bespeak the artist's sense that he had found his place.