Karl Schmidt-Rottluff 1884-1976
N06248 Dr Rosa Schapire 1919
Inscribed 'S. Rottluff 1919' t.r., 'Schmidt-Rottluff "Bildnis Rosa Schapire"' on stretcher and 'Unsrer Ro | Zur Weihnacht 1919 | K.u.E.' on back of canvas
Oil on canvas, 39 5/8 x 34 3/8 (100.5 x 87.5)
Presented by the Executors of Dr Rosa Schapire in accordance with her wishes 1954
Prov: Dr Rosa Schapire, Hamburg and London (gift from the artist and his wife)
Exh: Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: Gemälde, Aquarelle, Graphik, Kunstverein, Hanover, November 1963-January 1964 (78); Museum Folkwang, Essen, January-March 1964 (78); Kunstverein, Frankfurt, March-May 1964 (78); Akademie der Künste, Berlin, June-July 1964 (78); Lovis Corinth and German Expressionism, Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, December 1967-January 1968 (no catalogue); 20th Century Portraits, National Portrait Gallery Exhibition Rooms, London, June-September 1978 (32, repr.)
Lit: Will Grohmann, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (Stuttgart 1956), pp.44, 47, 290, repr. p.263; Gerhard Wietek, 'Dr phil. Rosa Schapire' in Jahrbuch der Hamburger Kunstsammlungen, IX, 1964, pp.114-60, repr. p.146
Repr: Wilhelm R. Valentiner, Schmidt-Rottluff (Leipzig 1920), pl.17
Dr Rosa Schapire (1874-1954), trained as an art historian at Zurich and Heidelberg Universities, was one of the first supporters of the Brücke group; she was a close friend of Schmidt-Rottluff from 1908 and in 1924 published a catalogue of his graphic oeuvre. She came to England in 1939 as a refugee from Nazi persecution, bringing with her a treasured collection of his paintings, sculptures and prints, as well as some 200 painted postcards and letters from Schmidt-Rottluff, Heckel, Pechstein, Kirchner and other artists of their circle.
This portrait was painted during the summer of 1919 at Hohwacht on the Baltic coast, and was given to her as a Christmas present later the same year by the artist and his wife. There are the beginnings of another composition on the back of the canvas. Another portrait of her painted in 1911 is now in the Brücke-Museum in Berlin and there is a portrait of 1915 in the Niemeyer collection, Hamburg; a further portrait made in 1911, showing her full-length, is no longer in existence. She was also the subject of a lithograph and five woodcuts by Schmidt-Rottluff.
This picture and 'Woman with a Bag' [Tate N05953] were both incorporated in the decorative scheme which Schmidt-Rottluff carried out in 1921 for the living-room of Rosa Schapire's apartment in Hamburg. He designed and - in certain cases with her help - also made a table, stools, cupboards and other furniture, a carpet, cushions, tablecloths, etc.; the ensemble being completed by a group of his carvings and paintings. The paintings and sculptures were brought to England in 1939, but the furniture had to be left behind in Hamburg, where it was destroyed in an air-raid.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.673-4, reproduced p.673