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T03350 THE SPHINX 1948
Inscribed ‘HG’ bottom right and ‘HG/48’ on back of canvas
Oil on canvas, 22 × 24 (55.9 × 61)
Bequeathed by the artist 1982
Exh: Hilde Goldschmidt: Paintings, Pastels and Monotypes 1935–1971, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, April 1973 (4, repr.in colour) and tour to museums at Lancaster, Blackburn, Preston, Carlisle, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, May 1973–January 1974; Hilde Goldschmidt: Malerei-Graphik, Tiroler Kunstpavillon, Innsbruck, August–September 1974 (oil paintings 3); Roots and Influences: Jankel Adler, Hilde Goldschmidt, Harry Weinberger, Camden Arts Centre, November 1976 (not in catalogue); Hilde Goldschmidt, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck, April–May 1977 (17)
Lit: Josef Paul Hodin, Way of Life: The Life and Work of the Painter Hilde Goldschmidt, Portland 1976, pp.56, 62–3, repr.pl.29 in colour
Painted during the period from 1942 to 1950 which Hilde Goldschmidt spent in the English Lake District on the Langdale Estate near Ambleside. According to J.P. Hodin, it was her first work in which figures and landscape became interconnected.
Mrs Annely Juda, who knew her well, writes of it (letter of 8 September 1982): ‘To my mind “Sphinx” is most certainly a self-portrait. There is also one other painting of the same period which is called “A Painter in the Lake District” and these two paintings seem to tie in together. Hilde Goldschmidt saw herself a little bit as a “Sphinx” in front of the Lake District landscape, as she was an unknown quantity up there, living very hidden on the Langdale Estate and in the middle of a wood she painted in a square hut, almost like an air-raid shelter, and that is where Schwitters found her one day and where their friendship began.
'She always regarded this painting as one of her key paintings and I think of it as a significant work which recalls her English period.’
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984