This portrait is of my father’s older brother, Paul Haas. Paul was a handsome man but by the time I met him he was elderly and nervous. He had been a chemist, as well as a wonderful watercolor painter. His finest works were of plants, shells, and landscapes of Israel. He had been a translator during World War I, stationed in Russia, as he was proficient in 12 languages. After he died, I found a Russian folk doll in his belongings.
For his portrait, I put together a still life of the man I knew. A posed photo peers out from the lower right. In the upper right corner is one of his desert landscapes. Next to the landscape, is the doll from Russia. Below her are shells like those he so beautifully painted, along with scampering lizards from his watercolor studies.
Paul was a complex individual — very smart, but also fragile emotionally. He suffered from anxiety and was often on the edge of incapacitating emotions. I don’t know why Uncle Paul bought the doll, but I placed it here to represent his fragile, childlike nature.