Young Woman carrying an Infant
  • Franz Skarbina
  • Berlin 1849 - 1910
  • Young Woman carrying an Infant, 1880
  • Watercolour over pencil, on lightbrown paper,
  • monogramed and dated lower right: F. SK. / 80.
  • 314 × 194 mm

After studying at the Berlin academy, Franz Skarbina opened his first studio on Leipziger Platz in 1880. During this same period, he taught anatomical drawing at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste (School of the Visual Arts). He interrupted these tasks for an extended period of study in Paris in 1885, which confirmed him in his role as the illustrator of the modern metropolis’s various social classes. Due to conflicts with the conservative, pro-imperial director, Anton von Werner, Skarbina gave up his professorship at the Hochschule in 1893, strengthening instead his activism for the newly-founded Berlin Secession.

Franz Skarbina was a greater master of watercolour technique than any other artist of his age in Berlin. In his vertical sheets he often placed isolated figures in front of blank backdrops done in astonishingly free wash. These were in contrast to the impressive wealth of detail in clothes and colour. Alongside his preference for actors and ladies in evening gowns, Skarbina also time and again portrayed the underside of this glamorous life in the new metropolis of Berlin, as attested by this exemplary watercolour of a young mother from visibly impoverished circumstances.