Isaac Israëls was never a marine painter but he often took his painting and drawing equipment to the beach. Many hundreds of oil paintings, water colours, pastels and drawings bear witness to the fact. Donkey-riding is a recurring subject. Of the approximately 100 oils that Israëls produced in the beach resort of Scheveningen, around 35 are devoted to it. A photo of Israëls at work on the beach shows that he got children to pose for him. Some of these works must therefore show real people, but the individuality of the children is never in evidence. The picture shown here bears a strong similarity both to a well-known painting in the collection of the Rijksmuseum and to the work seen in the famous photograph of Israël’s studio in Amsterdam. Although at first sight all the pictures of donkey-riding look very much alike, closer inspection shows that they are fairly individual. Each has its own distinctive composition as Israëls varied the number of donkeys, the direction of movement, the position of the sun and other details of the scene.
Source: A. Erftemeijer, Israëls aan zee: Hollandse en Italiaanse strandtaferelen van Isaac Israëls (1865-1934), Haarlem 2007.