This dark painting reflects Else Meidner’s admiration for Rembrandt, combined with her knowledge of German Expressionism, apparent in the free brush work and the portrait’s strong, emotive impact.
Else Meidner fled from Nazism in 1939, together with her husband, the acclaimed German Expressionist Ludwig Meidner, her former tutor at the Berlin Academy of Art. Else worked as a domestic during the war while Ludwig was interned. Afterwards, they endured great poverty and neglect in England, moving apart personally and stylistically, despite holding a joint exhibition at the Ben Uri in 1949. Else held two further exhibitions at Ben Uri in 1964 and 1972.
Else remained in London when her husband returned to Germany. She struggled bitterly with the loss she had experienced in her homeland and only returned once in 1963 when Ludwig became ill. A joint retrospective was held for both painters at Ben Uri in 2002.