Young woman with needlework
  • Franz Skarbina
  • Berlin 1849 - 1910
  • Young woman with needlework
  • Carpenter‘s pencil on strong paper, partly smeared
  • signed on the upper right: F. Skarbina
  • 302 × 228 mm
Sale Christie‘s, Amsterdam 15. II. 2005, private collection, Hamburg

We do encounter this musing-dreamy pose also in the Portrait of a Young Woman Knitting, in which Skarbina made use of a coarse and greasy carpenter’s pencil in order to lend a special pictorial effect to his drawing. Here Skarbina surpasses even his model Adolph Menzel, who relished working in this technique, and proves himself an Impressionist even in the medium of drawing, reflecting a nonchalant volatility in the carving of the chair as well as in the checkered pattern of the sitter’s dress and the ribbon in her curly hair. The suggestive way Skarbina portrays the young woman in profil perdu, or lost profile, evinces the draftsman as a sensitive observer who knows how to keep a proper distance from his model. The portrait of the young woman knitting provides an example of that oscillation between realism and poetry that lends an original character to Skarbina’s art. It remains unclear to the viewer whether the model is consciously posing or whether she is unaware of the artist portraying her. The wispy modeling therefore suggests to the viewer’s eye a kind of blur that simultaneously brings to mind the fleetingness of the situation depicted: the young lady seems just about ready to let her knitting tools fall absentmindedly into her lap and allow herself to dedicate her thoughts solely to daydreams.