Marie-Louise Von Motesiczky

Model, Vienna


Not on display

Marie-Louise Von Motesiczky 1906–1996
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 622 × 381 mm
frame: 711 × 471 × 45 mm
Presented by the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust 2017


Model, Vienna 1930 depicts a half-length female nude, the figure facing the viewer but looking to the side, her arms crossed protectively across her torso and clothing draped around her lower body. The light source is from the left of the composition, highlighting the figure’s right side, while the left remains in shadow. The contrasting light effects on the model’s skin are complemented by the contrasting tones of grey in the background, divided into a block of dark grey on the left and light grey on the right, the division between the two visible at the top edge of the painting behind the model’s head. The fabric draped in the foreground is also divided into two distinct tones, a strip of white at the top and dark grey below. This monochrome palette, and flat application of paint, itself contrasts with the expressionist handling of the model’s face and naked flesh. The nuanced fleshtones are thickly painted with strong highlights and demonstrate Motesciszky’s interest in the subtle effects of light on bare skin. Although the identity of the model is unknown, she has distinctive strong features and also appears in an earlier painting by Motesiczky, Model, Vienna 1929.

The work was painted at a time when Motesiczky was moving away from the angular forms seen in earlier paintings such as Portrait of a Russian Student 1927 (Tate T14867), which showed the influence of her teacher Max Beckmann (1884–1950) with whom she studied between 1928 and 1928, towards a looser expressionist approach. In the 1920s Motesiczky had studied in Paris, Berlin and Frankfurt-am-Main, before returning to her native Vienna where this work was painted. She moved to England in 1939 where she lived for the rest of her life. An interest in the human figure and the study of the naked form would remain important parts of her practice throughout her career.

Further reading
Ines Schlenker, Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 19061996: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, London 2009, p.119 no.32.

Emma Chambers
January 2017

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