Otto Modersohn - Gesche Böschen (Sitzendes Mädchen am Torfstich)
Gesche Böschen (Sitzendes Mädchen am Torfstich)
Oil on board, mounted on panel 58.2/58.6 x 41.4/41.8 cm Framed. Dated 'VI.02.' and signed 'Otto Modersohn' (probably later) in black lower left. Inscribed 'Gesche Böschen - Bergedorf b. Worpswede/Otto Modersohn' in pencil to the reverse. - Slight wear and minor losses of colour to the corners. The edges slightly rubbed due to the frame.
According to Rainer Noeres, Modersohn painted a further portrait of Gesche Böschen ("Mädchen an einem schiefen Baum lehnend") in June 1902 and, a few weeks earlier, of Jan Böschen ("Junge am Birkenstamm"), who is mentioned by name in a diary entry by the artist on 15 May 1902. The Böschens were a farming family from Worpswede.
Although the close observation of nature was an essential element of Modersohn's art, he was far more concerned with using his own sentiments to capture the essence of his sitters. "Intimacy is the true magic. - It travels inwards from the outside, and outwards from the inside. It permeates everything. - It abides in the idiosyncrasies of technique. - It is the work of the painter to express this uttermost intimacy." (Otto Modersohn, diary entry from 9th June 1902, cited from the German after: Otto Modersohn. Fischerhude 1908-1943, exhib. cat. Otto Moderson Museum, Fischerhude 1993, p. 298).
In 1902, Modersohn created a series of portraits depicting the farmers and children of Worpswede, often together with his wife and fellow painter Paula Modersohn-Becker. The present image of Gesche Böschen illustrates how the artist strived to depict his subjects with particular empathy. The young woman is shown in simple clothing, seated modestly and quietly in the center of the composition. She doesn't pose as a model would, but appears as though thoroughly unobserved. The horizontal partition of the image in the dark peat below and the light meadow and sky above is an interesting compositional motif. Whilst the girl's long green skirt and wooden clogs blend in with the earthy tones of the peat and grass, her pink skin, strawberry blonde hair and red blouse contrast starkly against the pale background - with the effect that the viewer's gaze is constantly directed to the sitter's features.
We would like to thank Rainer Noeres, Fischerhude, for his confirmation and additional information
Kunsthandlung Franz Leuwer, Bremen (label to the reverse); since then in family possession, Rhineland (since the 1950s)