Self-Portrait, 1944

Self-Portrait, 1944
Brown and black chalk and charcoal on cream-colored cardboard, heightened with white, 48,5 x 42,5 cm

The 1944 self-portrait in charcoal and chalk immediately draws in the observer. Head slightly tilted, she directs her attentive, penetrating and challenging gaze at you. Her windswept hair matches the waves of the stormy sea in the background and the rising and threatening bank of cloud. Yet she clenches her fist against the elements.

This pose draws on an official portrait form in early 16th-century paintings employed by artists such as Albrecht Dürer (the "Willensgriff") and demonstrates willpower and assertiveness. Clear body language and the natural metaphor of the stormy waters give an insight into the state of Ruth Baumgarte's emotions in the 1940s, and shows her willingness to engage as an artist in challenging times.