Portrait of Margarethe Kellner-Conrady, 1946

Portrait of Margarethe Kellner-Conrady, 1946
Gouache on brown cardboard, 53 x 41 cm

Ruth Baumgarte's portrait of her mother, Margarethe Kellner-Conrady (1899-1969), plays with shape, colour and strong accents. Yellow, red, blue, green and many shades between make up the colour of the face. Only the slightly stern mouth, the nostrils, the eyes and the eyebrows are realistic in their shape. In some places, the brown of the support can be seen through the layer of paint. A contrast to the face is the bright blue of the headscarf. The headscarf is a key element in the picture that connects the head and body and makes the red tie on the subject's pale blouse stand out.

The portrait is a very personal testimony to the relationship between mother and daughter. It shows Margarethe Kellner-Conrady aged 47. The privations of the Second World War are now behind her and she appears much younger. Kellner-Conrady frequently posed for her daughter's drawings and paintings.

She was a trained actor but the society of the time did not allow her to work in her profession as a single mother. From the 1920s to the 1940s, she supported herself and her child with secretarial work. The two had a close emotional relationship, which was at times difficult. After the Second World War, they moved to Bielefeld together. It was now the daughter who earned a living for both of them as a book, magazine and newspaper illustrator. Kellner-Conrady at times interfered in the decisions and life choices of her daughter.

Historical Photograph

Photograph of Ruth Baumgarte and Margarethe Kellner-Conrady in Bielefeld, 1946