Isaac Dobrinsky was born in 1891 in the city of Makarov, Ukraine. His father was a religiously observant Jew and he himself was brought up in a traditional way: he studied in a “Heder” (Jewish elementary school) and in a “Yashiva” (Jewish high school). He always found himself attracted to art. So he moved to Kiev in order to study sculpture after his father’s sudden death.
Finally, after working as a model for terracotta sculptures, he started learning sculpting in a studio. He worked as a storekeeper in a factory during this period. In 1912, he won a prize for his sculpture which allowed him to move to Paris where he lived until his death in 1973. Upon his arrival in France, he became friends with the sculptor Marec Szwarc and the painter Chaim Soutine who helped him settle down in Paris and shared their studio with him. Dobrinsky suffered from a disease that makes him neglect sculpture in favor of painting a year after his arrival. His first painting was shown at the Salón de Independientes a few months later.
In 1914, he joined the French foreign legion, but he was soon released on medical discharge. Then he returned to Paris and attended the Colarossi Academy, where he met Vera Kremer (her father, Arkadi Kremer, was the founder of the Bund, the Jewish socialist party in Eastern Europe).
The two got married in 1926. In 1934, he moved to a larger studio in Montparnasse, and in the next few years he made his major breakthrough in the art scene during that period of time. These were happy days for the young couple, full with creativity and muse. But the Second World War had put an end to this harmony. In the first two years of the German occupation, Dobrinsky and his family stayed in Paris, but in 1942, in order to escape deportation, they fled to a small village called Dordogne. Only in 1944, after the liberation, Dobrinsky returned to Paris, just to find that the sculptures he had left behind were destroyed. In 1950, he was invited by Serge and Rachel Pludermacher (the founders of an orphan home) to paint the portraits of the children in their institute. In the course of two years, Dobrinsky worked on about forty portraits of young boys and girls.
Dobrinsky used to say: “I don’t wish to be successful, I just wish to understand the mystery of creation”. And indeed, those who knew Dobrinsky say that there was something almost religious in his act of painting: very intimate and somewhat melancholic. Even though he had a heart condition during his last years alive, he had never stopped painting, and always in the same manner. When he died at the age of 81, he was in a mid of a still life painting he had never finished.