Reuven Rubin's The Milkman hammers for $389,000 at Sotheby's

The Milkman (1928), a painting by Reuven Rubin (1893-1974), has sold for $389,000 at an auction of Israeli Art at Sotheby's New York.

The sale took place on December 17, with the work achieving a 10.5% increase on a $350,000 high estimate.

Reuven Rubin Milkman Sothebys
Rubin painted The Milkman in 1928

An early emigre to Palestine, Rubin was among an early wave of Jewish artists who carved out a distinct style for themselves in the area during the 1920s - specifically a blend of modern European influences with those drawn from classic Jewish and Biblical art.

The milkman is presented as a symbolic link between the old country and the new due to its significance as a motif in eastern European Jewish culture. It appears as a theme in many of his paintings.

Untitled (1999) by Adi Nes was another lot that outperformed its estimate, achieving $377,000 against an $80,000-120,000 estimate - an increase of 214.6%.

Adi Ness Untitled Sothebys
The image shows young soldiers in the Israeli army

The photograph echoes Da Vinci's The Last Supper, although crucially the attention is cast away from the central figure who gazes out of the image with a dazed expression.

It has been interpreted as referencing the harrowing grind of life in a contested territory.

The print is numbered four of an edition of five, with two examples having sold recently, one in 2005 for $102,000 and another in 2007 for $264,000 - equating to an annual return of 17.7% pa in eight years.

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