Lotte Laserstein, The Painter and Madeleine at the Easel, 1947 Photo: Lotte Laserstein Archiv Krausse, Berlin ©Lotte Laserstein . Bildupphovsrätt 2023

The Painter and Madeleine at the Easel, 1947

Lotte Laserstein

Runtime: 02:12

Narrator: One year after the end of the war, in 1946, Lotte Laserstein ha d regained contact with her old friend and favorite model, Traute Rose, from her time in Germany. After many years of forced silence, the two had begun writing letters to each other, and slowly, their friendship was revived. When Laserstein began the self portrait “The Painter and Madeleine at the Easel” in 1947, it could be interpreted as the beginning of a dialogue with another important self portrait she painted almost twenty years earlier in Berlin: “Me and My Model” (1929/1930). There, Traute Rose, wea ring a thin gown, laid a gentle hand on Laserstein’s shoulder to the painting her friend was working on.

The portrait from 1947 resembles the portrait from 1929 in composition. Traute has, however, been replaced by Laserstein’s Swedish model Madele ine, who examines the painting on the easel while she braids her long hair. In both of the paintings, the artist, brush in hand, looks out of the picture and into a mirror, which coincides with the observer’s position and perspective. In this later painting, the artist Laserstein looks reflective and the situation radiates a certain gravity. If we find a hopeful, sensual energy in the earlier self portrait, here, we see all enthusiasm is lacking. Even the color palette is kept to muted brown and beige tones. As we assume from a painting that hangs behind Madeleine, the scene plays out before a wall. The painting, and perhaps even life in this period, seems to lack space. Even Madeleine, whose real name was Margareta Jaraczewsky, had emigrated from Berlin. She came to be Lotte Laserstein’s favorite Swedish model, including for many nude studies.



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