Eliazer (Elie) Neuburger. "Ahasver"

Eliazer (Elie) Neuburger
(1891 –1972)

Ahasver

Amsterdam, 1947
Oil on canvas
200 x 120 cm
Gift of Yehezkel Kelman Weissblum Robin, Amsterdam

Born in Amsterdam, to a working-class family with six children. His father worked as a diamond cutter. He desired to be an artist already from a young age, and visited museums with his father. Yet his father did not encourage him to be an artist, and Eliazer was compelled to work, like his father, at a diamond-cutting factory. In the evenings, however, he studied painting in the studios of Hendrik Maarten Krabbé and Gerrit Willem Knap. In 1922, he married Johanna Petronella Maria Bijlard, and they had a daughter. During the Holocaust, with the help of neighbors, they remained hidden in his studio. After the war, he focused on portraiture of the cultural elite and landscapes of Amsterdam. Many of his paintings are in the collection of the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam.

A man, barefoot and exposed, wearing torn garments gazes at the viewer with a guilty countenance. Behind him an elderly, mysterious figure reminiscent of the prophet Elijah raises his hand as in blessing. The contrast between the figures is echoed in the background: next to a smoke-filled,burning sky, there appears a hint of an illuminated Star-of-David. Neuburger, who himself survived the Holocaust, paints the survivor in the figure of the wandering Jew, whether blessed or cursed unclear, who continues down the via dolorosa of the chosen people.