(Latvian-Israeli. 1883 – 1963)
Abel Pann was an Israeli visual artist who was born in 1883. Abel Pann has had several gallery and museum exhibitions, including at the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaisme. Numerous works by the artist have been sold at auction, including ‘Shepherdess’ sold at Matsart Auctioneers & Appraisers ‘Israeli & International Art’ in 2007 for $94,400. There have been Several articles about Abel Pann, including ‘TMA Presents The Eye of the Collector: The Jewish Vision of Sigmund R. Balka’ written for ArtDaily in 2008. The artist died in 1963.
When Pann came to Eretz Israel in 1913, he was enchanted by the remarkable spirit of Jerusalem, and said that “it seemed to me that I had already seen that city. I felt as though I had returned to the city of my birth after deserting it for hundreds of years”…
It was in Jerusalem where he decided to devote himself to biblical paintings, which considered to be the core of his oeuvre. the iconography of Pann’s biblical works is linked to the 19th century Orientalism, used by European artists such as Klimt, Gaugain and Matisse, who transformed and interpreted themes of the near East and North Africa. The east was regarded by those artists a world of violence- idyllic, romantic, and drenched with sexuality.
Pann’s work reveals an intimate familiarity with the work of Rembrandt, James Tissot, and other European painters of biblical scenes. Among his most original approaches was a pastel of Potiphar’s wife. This familiar theme had for hundreds of years and in the hands of innumerable artists conventionally depicted a mature beauty seducing an innocent youth, Joseph. According to art critic Meir Ronnen, Pann’s interpretation, a late period pastel dating from the 1950s, depicts Potiphar’s wife as a spoilt child, an extremely young and very bored girl who is “possibly just one of the lesser playthings of a gubernatorial harem.” She turns her bored gaze on the young Israelite. Ronen considers her to be “the most brilliant of all Pann’s creations.”
Pann’s youngest son was killed in the Israeli War of Independence. After that loss, he turned to painting scenes of the Holocaust. He died in Jerusalem in 1963.
For many years, Pann was considered an important artist in Israel, and had even greater success among Jewish art consumers abroad, but he “outlived his artistic times,” fading in importance beside the new, modernist painters. Although many of his paintings are in museum collections, private collectors can sometimes find them at galleries such as the Mayanot Gallery.In 1990 art curator and Israeli art historian, Shlomit Steinberg submitted an MA thesis at the History of Art department of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, titled: “The Image of the Biblical Woman as Femme Fatale in Abel Pann’s Works”.