Young woman with a red dress
  • Franz Skarbina
  • Berlin 1849 - 1910
  • Young woman with a red dress, 1896
  • Watercolour on white cardboard
  • signed and dated with brush: F. Skarbina / 1896
  • 459 × 275 mm

Skarbina presents himself as an Impressionist par excellence in his Portrait of a Woman in a Red Dress, in which he directs the viewer’s focus, with evident relish, to the subtle and fully nuanced interplay between various red tones and almost lets his model melt into the orange-red background. Just as the artist so often knows just how to shift the observer’s glance, so does he here accent the peacock pattern on the pensive young woman’s chest in order to bring the figure’s face and bare forearms to the fore as the dominant pictorial motif. The fact that the artist’s loose handwriting peeks through the paint surface moreover emphasizes the artistic character of this representation. Here we encounter a model to whom Skarbina devoted his artistic attention during the 1890s. Thus, in the same year as he created this watercolour, we meet the young woman again in his painting All Saints’ Day, this time in the form of a grieving figure in the foreground whose wandering gaze into the distance is reminiscent of the pensiveness of the situation in the portrayal at hand. It is the bourgeois consciousness of the late Fin-de-siècle that Skarbina gives expression to here, and which is similarly expressed in many of his works set in an 18th- or early 19th-century ambience.