Shmuel Ovadyahu Biography – Jacob Samuel

Ovadyahu was skillful painter and a master with colors. Ovadyahu painted the local life and landscape; he also painted and sketched scenes and characters from the Jewish pioneer life. Shmuel Ovadyahu was born in Ukraine to an orthodox Jewish family, when Shmuel was 7 years old the family moved to Lodz, Poland. 

Although Ovadyahu’s elementary education was religious he painted and sketched from a young age. In Lodz Shmuel Ovadyahu’s talent was discovered and valued by a Polish known aristocrat and since 1910 he financed Ovadyahu’s artistic education, at first at a studio in Warsaw and later at The Munich Academy (1912-1914). At the beginning of the year 1924 Ovadyahu started teaching in a Hebrew high school in Lodz, but he was so fascinated by the idea of immigrating to Palestine and living in the Land of Israel that he never finished the first school year and instead he realised his desire and immigrated to Palestine later that year.

Palestine was the mythological Zion, a dream land, but the reality of Palestine was strange to its utopian dream. At first the artist experienced great difficulties, the change in the appearance of nature was hard for his eyes to perceive, the hardest part was the Mediterranean light that made everything seem white to him. But with the passing time Shmuel Ovadyahu got used to the local sun and adjusted his color pallet, he started painting and sketching the pioneer life growing enthusiasm.

Ovadyahu was an impressionist; he painted with great sensibility and honesty landscape, still life, human figures and animals, Ovadyahu was especially fond of painting the sea, he also painted portraits (women portraits in particular). Ovadyahu’s paintings have lyrical qualities that reflect his poetic soul, his lyricism is joyful as appropriate to the vivid person he was. Ovadyahu was a master with colors and his colors were a great tool in passing to the canvas and to the world his great love for life. Shmuel Ovadyahu’s first solo exhibition was held in Tel-Aviv and it was opened by Meir Dizengoff (1925). In 1931 the artist went back to Europe for a tour, he visited Paris, Berlin and cities in Poland and held some exhibitions there.

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