Marianne von Werefkin

Date/place of birth

1870 Tula, Russia

Day/place of death

1938, Ascona

Marianne von Werefkin - Rosalia Leiß
Marianne von Werefkin - Rosalia Leiß

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Marianne von Werefkin biography

Marianne Werefkin was a descendant of the high aristocracy of Russia, and in art circles she also continued to be respectfully referred to as the “Baroness” until her death. She received her first drawing lessons while still a child. She had a studio of her own at the family estate in Lithuania, which was known as “Blagodat” and had been acquired in 1879, and she also had her own studio later in St. Petersburg.

Werefkin became the student of Ilya Repin, with whom she was befriended, and her early work stood entirely under the influence of his realism. When her father – general at the Tsar’s service and commander of the Peter-and-Paul fortress in St. Petersburg – died in 1896, the artist was sufficiently independently wealthy on account of the private family fortune and a pension from the Tsar that she decided to move in the same year to Munich with the young Alexei Jawlensky, whom she had met in 1891, in order to be closer to the artistic events and innovative developments in Western painting. In keeping with her personality and temperament, she provided her support as a patron to her companion, of whose genius she was convinced. Her support of the circle that gathered around her in Munich was not just material: in theory and practice, she served them as an intellectual “spiritus rector”. Journeys to France preceded the legendary 1908 summer holiday in Upper Bavarian Murnau, where Werefkin and Jawlensky met for the first time with Vassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter to paint together. Her and her friends’ founding of the “Neue Künstlervereinigung München” (NKVM) followed, as did the formation of the “Blauer Reiter” in 1911/12. Not least on account of the outbreak of the First World War and of the Russian Revolution, her personal biography was subject to painful ruptures; Jawlensky and Werefkin were forced to emigrate from Germany and went to Switzerland, where they moved to Ascona in 1918. Werefkin lost her fortune; in 1921 her permanent separation from Jawlenksy followed and, from then on, she lived and exerted her influence under materially very modest conditions in the Ticino – but her convictions remained unbroken. Werefkin stood at the centre of the Expressionist stylistic development, which was characterised by the use of pure and symbolically intensified colour, by the development of an entirely novel two-dimensional form of composition, a rigorous turning away from every sort of realistic description of the motif and a turning towards abstraction. Her own work – which Werefkin had deliberately neglected since 1896, not least for the sake of Jawlensky’s advancement – was long seen in the shadow of the work of her companion and has only recently begun to be rediscovered and esteemed. In 1906 the 46-year-old artist once again took up painting. Her works were first shown in 1909, in the NKVM exhibition at Thannhauser; in 1912 she not only took part in the exhibition “Der Blaue Reiter” at the Berlin gallery “Der Sturm”, but also in the Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne. Her works possess a distinctive quality of their own in terms of content and form. In terms of technique, Werefkin’s preference for mixed media and for tempera, typically carried out on plain artist’s board, are characteristic of her work.

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

Marianne von Werefkin Prices

Marianne von WerefkinRosalia Lei߀111.600
Marianne von WerefkinL'Ouvreuse€67.200
Marianne von WerefkinTwo Women€40.800
Marianne von WerefkinLandschaft mit Reiter und Reiterin€34.510
Marianne von WerefkinMoonshine Landscape€22.500
Marianne von WerefkinAkt mit Armen hinter dem Kopf. Verso: Akt (each Helene Nesnakomoff)€15.000

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