Ben Uri collection

The Cock

Artist information

Name Issachar Ryback (1897-1935)

Born Kirovohrad, Ukraine

Died Paris, France

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Issachar Ber Ryback was born in Kirovohrad (Elisavetgrad), Russia (now Ukraine), and studied art in Moscow. After the 1917 Russian Revolution, he was part of a significant national Jewish art movement based on ghetto folk-art, Jewish popular traditions and humour. His fellow members included El Lissitzky, Natan Altman and Chagall. In 1916, Ryback and El Lissitzky were commissioned by the Jewish Historical and Ethnographic Society to travel around the small towns of present day Ukraine and Belarus, copying paintings in wooden synagogues and carved gravestones in Jewish cemeteries. This trip was the beginning of Ryback's sustained interest in Jewish folk art, and he continued to collect and appropriate this iconography in his work. In 1921 Ryback's experiments with Cubism and expressionism attracted acclaim in Berlin. He participated in the 'Der Sturm' group and completed an important series of lithographs depicting imaginary scenes of Jewish shtetl life. He later returned to Russia to design for the Moscow Theatre before settling in Paris, where his style became more romantic and nostalgic. Ryback died in Paris in 1935.

Object Details

Date 1920

Object type painting

Medium watercolour on paper

Materials and techniques watercolour (medium) paper (support)

Unframed 33.5 x 50 cm

Framed 52 x 67.5 cm

Signed signed, bottom left: I. Rybrack

Acquisition purchased 1935

Accession number 1987-354

Display status not on display

In The Cock, Ryback's cockerel bears comparison both with the romantic folkloric imagery of artists such as Chagall, and the expressionistic realism of Soutine's closely-observed studies. The cockerel, a staple of the French still-life, may be a symbol of his adopted French home, but also evokes the Jewish tradition of kapparot, where the sins of a person are symbolically transferred to a fowl. Le Repos, Ryback's sensitively-observed study of a horse at rest by is animated by a vivid palette and the beautifully rendered landscape which surrounds it.

Selected exhibition history

1935 Israel Zangwill Memorial Exhibition

1944 Opening Exhibition

1945 Exhibition of Paintings by A.A Wolmark (Konstam Collection), Dobrinsky Paris, and a selection of work from the Ben Uri Collection

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