Reuven Rubin was born in 1893 in Romania, and studied art in Paris. In 1912 he immigrated to Ottoman-ruled Palestine, and attempted to study at Bezalel Academy of Art. He found himself, however, at odds with the artistic views of the academy's teachers he returned to Paris and then to Romania, where he lived between 1916 and 1919.
By 1922, Rubin returned to Palestine, attempting to create a new, original, Eretz-Yisraeili style. Recurring themes in his work were the Palestinian/Israeli landscape, its folklore and population. Rubin was heavily influenced by the work of Henri Rousseau and sought to fuse Rousseau's style with Eastern nuances. In accordance with his integrative style, he signed his works with his first name in Hebrew and his surname in Roman letters.
In 1924 he became the first artist to have a solo exhibition at the Tower of David, in Jerusalem. In that same year he also became the chairman of the Association of Painters and Sculptors of Palestine.
During the 1920s and onwards Rubin also designed theatrical scenery for Habima Theater and other Tel Aviv theatres, such as the Ohel Theater. In 1948 he was appointed as the first Israeli ambassador to his native Romania. He served in this position until 1950. .