Dec 20, 2013

Seated Female Nude (Self-Portrait?)

Seated Female Nude (Self-Portrait?)

c. 1899

Paula Modersohn-Becker

(German, 1876–1907)

Charcoal with stumping

Support: Beige(1) modern laid paper

Sheet: 62.2 x 33.9 cm (24 1/2 x 13 3/8 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1973.35


Did you know?

Paula Modersohn-Becker's career was extremely brief but prolific before dying from complications of childbirth at age 31.


Although Paula Modersohn-Becker died in 1907, just as the Expressionist groups in Dresden and Munich were forming, the themes of her work prefigure the movement. This likely self-portrait exhibits her desire to convey not the idealized appearance of the female body but rather its fundamental essence, stripped of all the world’s trappings. She distilled the human body into flattened forms—achieved by erasing and blending the charcoal—and abbreviated the delineation of the feet, hands, and face. The sitter’s piercing stare invites the viewer to move beyond the body as flesh and blood toward her emotional or spiritual state.

See also
DR - German
Type of artwork: 

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email [email protected].

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.