(Preussisch Holland, East Prussia 1898 - 1993 Kalmar, Sweden)
Boy Resting under a Tree, c. 1934
Oil on panel, 76 x 99.5 cm
Signed twice lower right Lotte Laserstein
With the artist, Berlin (1934);
held with the artist in Sweden from 1937;
private collection, Sweden, acquired directly from the artist;
thence by descent, Sweden.
Anna-Carola Krausse has inspected the painting and will include it in her catalogue raisonné of Lotte Laserstein’s work under the title Junge im Wald.
The Laserstein expert Anna-Carola Krausse comments on the present painting:
Lotte Laserstein established her own private school of painting in Berlin in 1927. In her role as teacher she took her classes on a number of several-week painting excursions to northern Germany in the first half of the 1930s. On stylistic and thematic grounds, the genesis of the present work is unquestionably contemporary with one of these excursions, when she focused her teaching on landscapes and portraits of the local population. It was otherwise primarily her custom to concentrate on motifs from modern urban life.
Since the painting is undated, the location where it was made remains unsolved. Uwe Wolf, who sat for Laserstein’s painting class in the coastal town of Sahlenburg (today a district of Cuxhaven) as a child, recounts that she occasionally painted in a stretch of forest which bordered the beach. It is therefore entirely possible that she executed the work on one of her painting excursions to Sahlenburg in 1933 or in 1934. The short, animated brushstrokes used to depict the figure and the landscape are entirely characteristic of her style of painting in the first half of the 1930s.
A boy leans back, legs bent, in a leafy hollow formed by the partly-bare surface roots of a large tree growing on the edge of a bank. His upper body is supported on one elbow and he fixes the viewer with taunting nonchalance. The situation is unresolved. What is he doing there? Is he resting? Perhaps the long branch in his hands identifies him as a shepherd.
Despite the somewhat staged incorporation of the figure in a picturesque, albeit open narrative setting, this virtuoso portrait of a boy displays a compelling intensity that is otherwise mainly found in Laserstein’s small-format en-face portraits.