Schoolboy (Way to School), 1946

Schoolboy (Way to School), 1946
Oil on masonite, 55 x 47,7 cm

Ruth Baumgarte painted her first major portraits in oil in 1946. Her preferred subjects were people from her circle of friends and acquaintances, in particular children. She wrote enthusiastically in a poem on 27 May 1948 that she loves "little children" just as she does "new leaves".

The image here is of a schoolboy in a pale jacket and a dark blue hat carrying a leather satchel on his back. His melancholy, pensive expression and the blade of grass in his mouth show that he is in no hurry to get home from school. In the background, we can see his destination, a typical industrial community in the countryside at the foot of the Teutoburg Forest hills. On the left, our gaze is drawn in from a few country dwellings onto gentle rolling hills in the distance; on the right, we can see flat-roofed industrial buildings and chimneys.

The artist has allowed the grainy structure of the hardboard on which she paints to show through. Canvases were too expensive for many artists in the post-war period. The rough texture of the hardboard here provides a sensuous contrast to the outdoor motif, a motif which the artist gives its own distinctive presence through the use of pastel shades.