This print is based off of one of painter Richard Gerstl’s last works. The painting features a nude woman seated in front of a mirror, commonly thought to be Schoenberg’s wife, Mathilde, with whom Gerstl was having an affair. The affair came to a head in the summer of 1908, at the same time Schoenberg was writing his Second String Quartet. Mathilde left Schoenberg and ran away with Gerstl, but was persuaded to return for the sake of her children by one of Schoenberg’s students, composer Anton Webern, after which Schoenberg rededicated the quartet to her.

Mathilde, nude

You can see a shadowy reference to the Gerstl and to the next print in this series in the reflection of the mirror behind Mathilde. She was greatly disturbed by Gerstl's suicide, and was said to have visited his grave every year; it's safe to assume that he continued to occupy her thoughts.

Richard Gerstl, Sitzender Frauenakt, 1908

Leopold Museum, Vienna

 © 2020 by Alexandra Huryn. 

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