As the first female nude self-portrait in the history of art, this likeness created in Paris is extraordinary and, at the same time, a source of riddles. First, it was only her 5th anniversary – Otto Modersohn and Paula Becker were married on 25 May 1901. In addition, when this painting was created, the artist was not pregnant – as suggested by her rounded belly and the hands laid protectively around it. The inscription at the bottom right as well as the calm, self-assured gaze directed at the viewer reveal the image’s true character as an artistic as well as personal manifesto: the painter is confident in her artistic calling, abilities and creative power. Coupled with the image’s size, immediacy and simultaneous simplicity, this conviction makes the painting one of the 20th century’s most striking images of the figure.