Portrait of Henryka Cohn

Richard Gerstl1908

Leopold Museum

Leopold Museum

Whereas two years earlier in his Portrait of Fritza Riedler, Gustav Klimt rendered the armchair as a stylised wall of decoration, Gerstl seats this lady on a structure of painterly, broad brushstrokes in brick redwith daubs of black and purple that bearsonly a very rough resemblance to a sofa. He has captured the white dress in a very cursory way at the base of the skirt. Above this and beneath the lacy part of the dress rendered in daubs of white, Gerstl skilfully captured the upper arm of the sitter shining through the gauzy material. It would seem that the artist was unconcerned by the fact that when he later outlined the white dress in blue he made the lady’s body look too short. It was much more important for him to introduce this blue as a contrast to the brick-red armchair. At thesame time this framing blue envelops the body like an aura. Thebackground with the window at the top has been captured with such frenzied vigour that it could be seen as anticipating paintings created years later, for instance in Lovis Corinth’s late work.The connection between Gerstl and Henrika Cohn has yet to be clarified. All that we know is that the self-confident pianist was close to Arnold Schönberg and that both she and Gerstl’s father speculated on the Vienna stock exchange. However, the picture was never owned by the Cohn family and was found as part of the artist’s estate.

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  • Title: Portrait of Henryka Cohn
  • Date Created: 1908
  • Technique: Oil on canvas
  • Physical Dimensions: w1119 x h1479 cm (Without Frame)
  • Painter: Richard Gerstl
  • Original German Title: Bildnis Henryka Cohn
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 650, Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 650