Young woman carrying an infant
  • Franz Skarbina
  • Berlin 1849 - 1910
  • Young woman carrying an infant, 1880
  • Watercolour over pencil, on light brown paper
  • monogramed and dated with brush: F. Sk. / 80
  • 314 × 194 mm

Franz Skarbina’s watercolour Young Lady with an Infant, which dates to 1880, demonstrates the artist’s great interest in the human figure as well. By eschewing a more detailed definition of space, the draftsman turns the viewer’s focus entirely onto the two protagonists in the center of the sheet, who appear as an intimately connected unit. Almost oppressed by her own shadow, this young mother shields her baby lovingly and protectively with her cape from her own shadow, which nearly presses upon her, and in so doing unconsciously evokes associations with the motif of a modern-day Madonna of Mercy. At the same time, the delicacy of their faces stands in deliberate contrast to the heavy, coarse clothing fabric worn by this small group from a visibly poor part of Berlin. Where Skarbina’s water-saturated watercolour brush slurs or softens the harsh reality, we can already see new a pictorial language beginning to articulate itself here, which applies the lessons learned from modern open-air painting to the interior image. Franz Skarbina was one of the first German artists to grapple with the principles of French Impressionism as early as the 1880s.