5: Mt. Washington Railway, N.H. by Israel Litwak
Mt. Washington Railway, N.H. by Israel Litwak
Israel Litwak (Russian, 1867-1960). Oil on canvas, a playful and naive portrayal of the Mt. Washington Railways, with several figures in train and abroad, signed l.r., dated 1948; 22 x 31.5 in.
Russian-born Israel Litwak arrived in the United States in 1903 and settled in Brooklyn, working as a cabinet maker. At the age of sixty-eight, Litwak was forced to retire and began to experiment with painting and drawing. His early works were completed on wood panels in pencil and crayon, but as his skills developed, he began to paint in oil on canvas. His most common subjects were his surroundings in New York and areas of New England he visited while on vacation, such as this one of the Mt. Washington Railway in New Hampshire. He sometimes copied postcards and photographs, reimagining the scenes as he translated them to his canvas. The artist said of his process, "One achieves good painting by imagination, talent, patience and a lot of hard work," he wrote. "I look . . . just to get an idea; then I go home and make it the I want it, not the way it is.” Litwak’s distinctive naïve style gave these scenes new life in vivid, playful colors, and he began to gain recognition amongst the New York art circuit. In 1939, Litwak’s art was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. His artistic career continued to advance in the 1940s and until his death in 1960. Although Litwak’s popularity declined after his death, in the 1990s his work began to regain recognition and today he is remembered as one of New York’s finest self-taught artists from the mid-century.
“Biography: Israel Litwak (1867-1960).” Galerie St. Etienne, http://www.gseart.com/Artists-Gallery/Litwak-Israel/Litwak-Israel-Biography.php (Accessed 5 October 2012)
Stamper, Jeff. “Antiques: Appraise It,” Nashville Arts Magazine online, 7 December 2009, http://nashvillearts.com/2009/12/07/antiques-appraise-it-3/ (Accessed 5 October 2012)
“Crawford Notch, New Hampshire,” Brooklyn Museum of Art online database, http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/1551/Crawford_Notch_New_Hampshire (Accessed 5 October 2012)