Marie-Louise Von Motesiczky: Catalogue Raisonne of the Paintings

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky was an artist whose life spanned almost the entire twentieth century. Her works were produced over a period of seven decades and range from the first small oil painting, "Small Roulette", painted in 1924 when she was just 17 years old, to "Still-Life", "Vase of Flowers", which she was still working on in 1996, shortly before her death. Her oeuvre includes over 300 paintings, mostly portraits, self-portraits and still-lifes, and several hundred drawings. Having begun a promising career in Vienna, Frankfurt, Berlin and Paris, a pupil and lifelong friend of Max Beckmann, Motesiczky was forced to leave her native Vienna by the rise of National Socialism, and flee to Britain. Here she rebuilt her life, to become one of the major Austrian painters of the twentieth century and one of the most important emigre artists in her adopted homeland.

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky was an artist whose life spanned almost the entire twentieth century. Her works were produced over a period of seven decades and range from the first small oil painting, "Small Roulette", painted in 1924 when she was just 17 years old, to "Still-Life", "Vase of Flowers", which she was still working on in 1996, shortly before her death. Her oeuvre includes over 300 paintings, mostly portraits, self-portraits and still-lifes, and several hundred drawings. Having begun a promising career in Vienna, Frankfurt, Berlin and Paris, a pupil and lifelong friend of Max Beckmann, Motesiczky was forced to leave her native Vienna by the rise of National Socialism, and flee to Britain. Here she rebuilt her life, to become one of the major Austrian painters of the twentieth century and one of the most important emigre artists in her adopted homeland.


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The Life of Marie-Louise von Motesiczky

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky’s Oeuvre

Catalogue of Paintings

Selection of Drawings


list of exhibitions



copyright credits


The Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable

Trust was founded by the artist several years

before her death in 1996. A substantial part of

her estate was passed by Motesiczky’s executors

into the care of the Trust with the aim of

achieving two main objectives. Beyond general

charitable purposes and two areas specified

by the artist in the Trust’s governing deed,

the other principal responsibility of the Trust

was to secure Motesiczky’s artistic legacy. The

Trustees viewed this as their first priority and

this present volume represents the fulfilment

of their primary duty towards enhancing the

artist’s reputation. It builds upon the biography

of Motesiczky written by the art historian and

curator Jill Lloyd, which appeared in 2007. Lloyd’s

biography was published during the tour of a

successful centenary exhibition which between

2006 and 2008 travelled to museums in Liverpool,

Frankfurt, Vienna, Passau and Southampton.

When formed, the Trust was originally

composed of five Trustees, Professor Jeremy

Adler, Professor Michael Jaffé (died 13 July 1997),

Richard Karplus, Sean Rainbird and David

Scrase. Two new Trustees, Frances Carey and

Julian Chadwick, were appointed in 2006 in

place of Jeremy Adler and Richard Karplus. The

Trustees’ continuing commitment to the artist

and her memory have enabled Ines Schlenker,

who diligently researched the artist’s life and

work, to complete this magnificent volume.

It offers for the first time a comprehensive

overview of Motesiczky’s paintings and her

most important works on paper. Ines Schlenker

interviewed many of Motesiczky’s family and

friends, who confirmed facts and offered their

recollections and invaluable insights into her

life and work. The author has drawn extensively

upon the artist’s archive, housed at the Trust,

to support her research with documents,

letters and photographs that add greatly to

our knowledge of Motesiczky’s works. This

painstaking approach, which lies at the heart

of any such similar enterprise, has enabled the

author in particular to unearth many hitherto

unknown facts and provide a more accurate

dating for many of Motesiczky’s paintings.

For an artist whose career appeared to be

developing quietly and away from the mainstream,

at least until a group of prominent

exhibitions in London, Manchester and Vienna

late in her career, one learns with some surprise

that Motesiczky participated in more than

forty exhibitions during her long life. Working

from the mid-1920s until her death in 1996

she produced around 340 paintings and over

a thousand works on paper. Moreover, she

created works of great originality and insight at

all stages of her long career and this is perhaps

the more unusual achievement. Her paintings

until the early 1930s, with their elongated

formats and sense of suspended reality,

suggest the early influence of her teacher Max

Beckmann on her formative years. However,

she had found her own voice by the mid-1930s

before leaving Austria for England via a year in

Holland as an exile from the National Socialists.

Fellow exiles such as the writer Elias Canetti, the

art historian Ernst Gombrich, the musicologist

Hans Keller and his artist wife Milein Cosman,

formed enduring friendships with Motesiczky

in the years that followed. In the later part of her

career came perhaps her most moving series of

paintings, profound and unsparing portraits of

her mother as she advanced to high old age and

physical decrepitude. Motesiczky’s insights into

her sitters’ lives made her portraiture unusually

penetrating. Her dutiful care for her mother

meant that the possessions and environment

of their Hampstead home became the focus of

her life and the subject of many still-lifes and

views of the lovingly cultivated garden. After

her mother’s death Motesiczky was able to travel

more, and this too was reflected in her choice

of motifs encountered on her journeys.

Ines Schlenker provides full details of the

origins of all Motesiczky’s paintings, including

those that have come to light since her death.

In addition, as one expects from a catalogue

raisonné, the chronological listing of paintings

is supported by a comprehensive scholarly

apparatus giving exhibition history, bibliography,

index, an introduction to her life and an overview

of her work. All available paintings were

re-photographed for this publication. Where

necessary, paintings underwent conservation

treatment and were reframed.

The Trustees would like to thank Ines

Schlenker for her steadfast, patient and enthusiastic

commitment to this extended project,

which has evolved into what will remain the

standard work on the artist. In completing

this publication the Trustees have relied on the

generous support of numerous institutions

and many individuals. King’s College, London,

provided institutional affiliation for the author

through a post-doctoral fellowship during the

early part of the project. The Trustees would

like to thank Rachel Barker and Sam Hodge

for their sensitive conservation treatment of

individual paintings and Mike Howden for

recreating many of the artist’s own frame

designs or proposing alternatives when these

were not available. The Trustees owe a debt

of gratitude to George Lewis, a friend of the

artist, who was always on hand with advice

and practical help. Two Trust Secretaries in

particular, Chloe Johnson and more recently

Andrew Crosbie, assisted in a multitude of ways

to provide administrative support. The Trustees’

special thanks go to all those involved in the

production of this volume; to Tim Holton at

an early planning stage, and in particular to the

editor Johanna Stephenson and the designer

Philip Lewis who worked tirelessly and with

great commitment to create a publication of

substance and beauty.

It is the Trustees’ hope that this publication

reaches not only those who already know and

value Marie-Louise von Motesiczky’s art, but

also a new audience. While it has the academic

rigour required by this kind of book, its clear

prose and lively detail makes it accessible

to the general reader eager to learn more

about an unusual and fascinating life, and an

accomplished artistic career. All who encounter

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky through these

pages will come to appreciate more a highly

gifted artist whose achievements deserve wide



In compiling the catalogue raisonné of paintings

by an artist I admired enormously but unfortunately

had never met I had to rely on the help of a large

number of individuals, among them many of the

artist’s friends and relatives. Without their kind

and generous support a book of this nature could

not have been written.

I would particularly like to thank the Trustees

of the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable

Trust, Frances Carey, Julian Chadwick, Sean

Rainbird and David Scrase, for their unwavering

support and encouragement and their initial trust

in appointing me to the task. I am also grateful to

the German department at King’s College, London,

to which I was attached during the first seven years

of the project. A wonderful team worked together

on the catalogue raisonné, including the brilliant

conservators Rachel Barker, Rosie Freemantle,

Sam Hodge, Mike Howden and Charoulla Salt,

the archivist Louise Ray, the research assistants

Nikki Light and Evi Baniotopoulou and the former

secretary of the Trust, Chloe Johnson. For computer,

database and website advice and practical help I

could rely on Dennis McDermott, Claus Moser,

David Powell, Toby Poynder, Richard Read, Markus

Schlenker and David Yeandle. Andrew Crosbie,

the Trust Secretary, smoothed the often hazardous

way of the catalogue raisonné with good humour

and extraordinary problem-solving skills. George

Lewis supported this project in more ways than

he probably realizes. His invaluable contribution

to the catalogue raisonné cannot be overestimated.

Jill Lloyd, Motesiczky’s biographer, was a supportive

colleague with whom I could share information

and a fascination for Marie-Louise’s paintings.

Many of the above kindly read and commented on

various stages of the book, ironing out numerous

mistakes. Without the spirited and often inspired

work of the photographers Matthew Hollow and

Simon Roberton, the copy editor Eileen Power,

the artistic editor Johanna Stephenson and the

designer Philip Lewis the catalogue raisonné would

not present itself in the splendid way it does.

I am indebted to the following for granting

interviews in person, allowing access to paintings,

answering my questions and assisting with

research: Rosalind Abrams, Eva and Jeremy Adler,

Evelyn Adunka, Barbara Alden, Astrid Altschul-

Junesjö, Carole Angier, Olaf Ansorge, Zsuzsanna

Ardó, Diana Athill, Beryl Atkins, Frederick Baker,

Juliaan Bakker, Georg Baldass, Galia Bar-Or,

Mayen Beckmann, Valentina Barbara Berner,

Wilhelmine Beschorner, Felix Billeter, Michael

Black, Gudrun Boch, Claudia Böse, Monica

Bohm-Duchen, Veronica Bolay, Sheela Bonarjee,

Beatrice von Bormann, Sigrid Bothe, Cheryl Bove,

Jules Breeze, Ursula Brentano, Emil Brix, Ingried

Brugger, Barbara Buenger, Richard Calvocoressi,

John le Carré, Augustus Casely-Hayford, Catherine

Casley, Diana and Peter Clegg, David Cohen, Greg

Colley, Eric Conrad, Peter Conradi, Christie Coutin,

Erica Davies, Andrea Denbeaux, John Denham,

Amy Dickson, Ingrid von der Dollen, Júlia Domán,

Susan Einzig, Walter Elkan, Patrick Elliott, Muriel

Emanuel, Fee Engel, Walter Franz Eybl, Elizabeth

Fallon, Brian Fallon, Silvia Finzi, Hans-Jürgen

Fittkau, Helmut Friedel, Hildegard Fritz-Denneville,

Hubert Gaisbauer, Klaus Gallwitz, Elke Garbbert-

Perton, Gerda Garve, Mary Geraghty, Maria Ghisi,

Walter Gleckner, Ernst Gombrich, Barbara Göpel,

Rüdiger Görner, Mirli and Daniele Grassi, Flavia

Grassi, Sarah Greenberg, Pam Griffin, Lydia Gröbl,

Ken Grundy, Maria Gussago, Margaret Hamy,

Sven Hanuschek, Jenny Harrington, Brian Harris,

Maureen Harris, Beverley Haun, Barbara Heyman,

Susanna Hiegesberger, Klaus Hinrichsen, Franz

Hocheneder, Mary and Robert T. Holtby, Tim

Holton, Thomas Honickel, Vivien Hughes,

Jeannette Jackson, Nicholas Jacobs, Lorenz Jäger,

Patricia Jaffé, Hedwig Jagersberger, Gillian Jason,

Isobel Johnstone, Evamarie Kallir, Jane Kallir,

Mirjam Kann, Richard Karplus, Zipi and Michael

Karplus, Eda Karsten, Barbara Kaulbach, Conny

and Michael Kerman, Maria-Pia Kerman, David

de Keyser, Jocelyn Kingsley, Yukiko Kitamura,

Christian Kloyber, Uta Kohl, Gabriele Kohlbauer-

Fritz, Nicholas Kolarz, Kinga Körmendy, Charlotte

Lane, Mieke and Philip Leembruggen, Christian

Lenz, Henry Lessore, John Lessore, Georgette

Lewinson, Elena López Calatayud, Erika Lorenz,

Eva-Maria Loudon, Patricia Lousada, Lorette

Lugten, Mark Luprecht, Nicolas Lytton, Judith Mac

Colum, Marian Malet, Stephan Mann, Josephine

Del Mar, Helmut Mark, Sandra Martin, Monika

Mayer, Harriet McKay, Herbert Medek, Gregor

Medinger, Gian Carlo Menotti, Eva Michel, Michael

Molnar, Guy Monier, Tim Moreton, Richard

Morphet, Sybille-Karin Moser-Ernst, Erica and

Walter Nessler, Andreas Neufert, Elena Newton,

Elisabeth Nowak-Thaller, Margery Oplatka, Alied

Ottevanger, Kurt Overlack, Beatrice Owen, Ann

Pasternak Slater, Valerie Pearl, Sabine Plakolm-

Forsthuber, Anna Plodeck, Barbara Price, Erica

Propper, Patrick Pye, Trude Rabley, Johannes Rafael,

Hilde Randolph, Andrea Rauter, Claire Rauter,

Peter Rauter, Piers Paul Read, Marjory Reeves, Gaby

Reydon-Nechansky, Jan Reifenberg, Ladislas Rice,

Liz Rideal, Anna-Maria and Henry Rollin, Jörg Roth,

Miriam Rothschild, Anne Rowe, Nancy Salaman,

Karin and Jan Willem Salomonson, Birgit Sander,

Regine Schmidt, Sabine Schulze, Cyril Scurr, Ursula

Seeber, Rudolf Seitz, Jürgen Sild, Josefa Simon, John

A. Simpson, Cassie Sladen, Ada and Julian Sofaer,

Aya Soika, Gerald Sommer, Nicholas Stewart, Ursula

Storch, Ursula Vaughan Williams, Elinor Verdemato,

Peter Verdemato, Jutta Vinzent, Rüdiger Volhard,

Rilana Vorderwülbecke, Alexander de Waal, Victor

de Waal, Kristian Wachinger, Chris Warde-Jones,

Barbara and Stefan Weidle, Julia Weiner, Christiane

Wettke, Tim Wilcox, Lucy Williams, Kathy Winstanley,

Doris Winter, Gordon Winter, Edith Yapou, Yonna

Yapou-Kromholz, Christiane Zeiller, Eva Zernatto

and Rainer Zimmermann. I also must record

my debt of gratitude to the numerous staff at

the libraries and archives consulted and at the

museums and galleries contacted for their expert

advice and help with ektachromes and digital

images. My special thanks go to Jo Bondy, Jantien

and Peter Black, Milein Cosman and Christiane

Rothländer, Karl von Motesiczky’s biographer.

They generously shared their large knowledge of

the artist, her work and family, tirelessly answering

my questions and resolving countless problems.

As always, Shulamith Behr lent me her untiring

support. She first introduced me to the artist and

guided me throughout the project.

I am deeply grateful to my parents, Marianne

and Hans Schlenker, and my friends Sharon Eytan

and Henriette Stuchtey, who accompanied this

project with their unfailing, patient goodwill. Above

all I would like to thank my husband Michael

Schaich for providing the framework and emotional

support that allowed me to work on the catalogue

raisonné. He patiently read and commented on

every stage of the text and is my very best editor.

Our daughter Hannah Schlenker has grown up

with Motesiczky’s paintings and spent many hours

at Chesterford Gardens. Her zest for life and her

laughter often proved contagious and cheered

me on. With love and admiration I dedicate the

catalogue raisonné to Michael and Hannah.

ines schlenker

‘If you could only paint a single good picture in

your lifetime, your life would be worthwhile.’ 1

The Life of Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky

marie-louise von motesiczky was an artist whose life

spanned almost the entire twentieth century. Her works

were produced over a period of seven decades and range

from the first small oil painting, Small Roulette (no. 1),

painted in 1924, when she was only seventeen years old,

to Still-life, Vase of Flowers (no. 331), which she was still

working on in 1996 shortly before her death. Her oeuvre

includes over three hundred paintings, mainly portraits,

self-portraits and still-lifes, and several hundred drawings.

She filled some hundred sketchbooks with studies and

ideas. For a long time, however, Motesiczky did not receive

the attention she deserves, notwithstanding a considerable

number of exhibitions. This was mainly owing to the radical

political changes brought about by National Socialism.

The political developments in Central Europe destroyed her

highly promising career before she had reached full maturity.

Forced into exile, she set about rebuilding her life in England

and became one of the major Austrian painters of the

twentieth century and one of the most important émigré

artists in her new homeland. During her lifetime several

highly successful solo exhibitions, for example at the

Goethe-Institut in London in 1985 and at the Österreichische

Galerie Belvedere in Vienna in 1994, paid tribute to her

outstanding talent. The exhibition tour that marked the

artist’s centenary in 2006 delighted audiences in Liverpool,

Frankfurt am Main, Vienna, Passau and Southampton and

received enthusiastic reviews, confirming her place in

the history of art.


Marie-Louise von Motesiczky was descended from a

wealthy aristocratic Jewish family that played a vital role

in the intellectual and artistic circles of Vienna at the turn

of the twentieth century. 2 The large extended clan included

the Auspitz, the Ephrussi, the Gomperz, the Lieben, the

Schey, the Todesco and the Wertheimstein branches.

Although secularized and gradually assimilated into

Viennese society they tended to intermarry, thus creating

a complicated genealogy. The family, which originated in

the provinces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, made its

enormous fortune in manufacturing and banking. It had

close links to the monarchy, admired German culture and

put great emphasis on a good education. Over the years,

individual family members were elevated to the rank of

nobility. Many male members of the family, such as the

philologist Theodor Gomperz and the philosopher Franz

von Brentano, as well as Robert von Lieben, the inventor

of the amplifying valve, distinguished themselves through

scholarship. Some female family members, often artistically

talented, became famous as hostesses. Josephine von

Wertheimstein, for example, presided over the legendary

salon at the Villa Wertheimstein in Döbling where the

political, commercial and cultural élites of the day met. The

young poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal first presented his

poems to the public there. One of Wertheimstein’s protégés,

the Viennese poet Ferdinand von Saar, became a family

friend, celebrating important occasions in their lives with

poems. Josephine’s sister, Sophie von Todesco, organized

high society events at the splendid Palais Todesco (fig. 1).

Situated opposite the Viennese Hofoper, it was filled with

spectacular pieces of furniture and a celebrated art collection.

Sophie counted painters like Hans Makart and Moritz von

Schwind, composers like Johannes Brahms, Franz Liszt and

Johann Strauss and playwrights like Henrik Ibsen among

her friends. Members of the extended family also became

well-known patrons of art and science and generous

supporters of charities. Leopold von Lieben (fig. 2),

Marie-Louise’s grandfather, and his cousin Rudolf Auspitz,

for example, were among the founders of the Wiener

Musikverein, where the family regularly attended concerts.

Leopold’s brother Adolf Lieben, using part of his inheritance,

created the Ignaz-Lieben-Preis that supported

Fig. 1 Palais Todesco, Vienna, photograph, 1930s (Karl Skowronnek.

Zur Entwicklung der Elektronenverstärkerröhre, Berlin 1931)

14 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

research in chemistry and physics. From 1901 this ‘Austrian

Nobel Prize’ was awarded annually, honouring the cream

of Austrian natural scientists. 3

Sophie von Todesco’s second daughter, Anna (fig. 3),

Marie-Louise’s grandmother, was born in 1847. The

luxurious, aesthetic atmosphere in which Anna grew up

encouraged her to draw and write poems. She married

Leopold von Lieben (1835–1915), the director of his

own family bank, vice-governor of the Österreichisch-

Ungarische Bank and president of the Austrian stock

exchange. Anna von Lieben’s life, however, also reveals a

darker side of mental illness that ran in the family and was

obscured by their glamorous wealth and social success. 4

Hysterical symptoms had started in her teens and worsened

after her marriage, temporarily vanishing during her

pregnancies (Ilse was born in 1873, Valerie in 1874, Ernst in

1875, Robert in 1878 and Henriette, Marie-Louise’s mother,

in 1882). Anna also suffered from bouts of facial neuralgia

and insomnia. The family called in the young Sigmund

Freud whose treatment consisted of making her talk about

her past traumas under hypnosis. He also supervised

her daily injections of morphine. After several years of

treatment without permanent improvement Freud was

dismissed in 1893. Yet, as one of Sigmund Freud’s earliest

and most important patients, Anna von Lieben was a

crucial inspiration for the creation of psychoanalysis. Freud

called her his ‘Lehrmeisterin’ (mentor). 5 Using the pseudonym

‘Cäcilie M.’ to prevent her from being identified, he

gave her a prominent place in his Studies on Hysteria, 6

acknowledging her as ‘a highly intelligent woman, to

whom I am indebted for much help in gaining an understanding

of hysterical symptoms’. 7 Anna von Lieben died

in 1900 and a collection of her poems was published the

following year. 8

By all accounts, the upbringing of the Lieben children

was privileged but also highly unconventional. After their

marriage in 1871, Anna and Leopold had first lived at the

Palais Todesco. A few years later, in 1874, they, together

with four of his siblings and their families, purchased a large

property at Oppolzergasse 6, that bordered the Ringstraße.

Fig. 2 Leopold von Lieben, photograph, c. 1900

(Motesiczky archive)

Fig. 3 Anna von Lieben, photograph, c. 1870

(Motesiczky archive)


Fig. 4 Henriette von Motesiczky, photograph, early 1900s

(Motesiczky archive)

Fig. 5 Edmund von Motesiczky, photograph, early 1900s

(Motesiczky archive)

16 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

Fig. 6 Rosina von Motesiczky, photograph, 1879

(Motesiczky archive)

Fig. 7 Franz von Hauer, photograph, 1880

(Motesiczky archive)

While the ground floor is to this day occupied by the

famous Café Landtmann, Anna and Leopold moved into

the apartment on the first floor of the building in 1888.

The Burgtheater, directly opposite, provided regular

entertainment for the occupants of the house who loved to

watch the comings and goings of the actors and audiences.

Anna and Leopold’s rooms accommodated an enormous

art collection, that ranged from paintings by Rudolf Alt,

Arnold Böcklin, Friedrich August von Kaulbach, August von

Pettenkofen, Tintoretto, Makart, and Franz von Lenbach,

among them his portraits of Leopold and his children,

to fine pieces of furniture, tapestries and silver. 9 As the

youngest by far, Henriette von Motesiczky (fig. 4) led

a rather lonely life and was often left to her own devices.

Aged eleven she fell fervently in love with Hugo von

Hofmannsthal, who had become friendly with her brothers.

Being considerably older, Hofmannsthal seems to have put

a stop to her adolescent infatuation once he realized how

serious and how easily encouraged she was. 10 Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky remembered her mother as an unusual

woman, a real ‘character’, natural, like a big child, who

loved the countryside, dogs and hunting. 11 According to her

daughter, she was warmhearted and wise yet often impossible,

not noticing how she came across as egotistical. 12 She

enjoyed luxuries big and small and expected to be waited

on. Having been protected by her daughter from the

dangers and disappointments of life even during the

turbulent years of emigration and exile, she appeared

to ‘have never been expelled from paradise’. 13

Motesiczky’s father, Edmund Franz von Motesiczky

Kesseleökeö 14 (fig. 5), was born in Vienna in 1866. Officially

the son of the Hungarian aristocrat Matthias Motesiczky

de Kesseleökeö and his wife Rosina, née Süffert (fig. 6), he

was actually the result of his mother’s relationship with Franz

Ritter von Hauer (1822–99; fig. 7), a distinguished geologist

and director of the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna.

It was in the Naturhistorisches Museum that Edmund was

secretly born. While the elderly Matthias Motesiczky appears

to have spent most of his time at his country estate, the two

lovers had built a large house in Kierling to which they

moved – this was just outside Vienna but far enough from

the city to avoid gossip. Edmund was partly brought up

by the family of the well-known conductor Franz Schalk.

In these artistic surroundings Edmund’s musical gifts were

nurtured and he developed into an excellent amateur cellist

who practised six hours a day on his Stradivarius cello.

He made music with Arnold Rosé and Johannes Brahms.

Despite the fact that Edmund studied chemistry at the

University of Vienna, being awarded a doctorate in 1896,

he never practised as a chemist, but devoted his time to


hunting and music. Although he had been acknowledged

as a Motesiczky he did not inherit a lot of money and

throughout his life had to make ends meet. Nevertheless

he managed always to appear extremely elegant. Friends

knew about his carelessness with money and his aversion

to any kind of work but admired him all the more for

his charm, his wit and his musical proficiency. Wolfgang

Magg, a fellow cellist who had met Edmund von

Motesiczky before the turn of the century, told Marie-

Louise von Motesiczky in 1966 that he had always been

‘full of appreciation for a genius on the one hand and

a gentleman on the other’. 15

Edmund von Motesiczky was introduced to the

Lieben family by Molly Filtsch, the mistress of Leopold

von Lieben. After his earlier unsuccessful courtship of

Henriette’s sister Ilse, Henriette and Edmund fell in love.

They were, however, forbidden to see each other since

Leopold von Lieben did not consider Edmund a suitable

match, being much older than Henriette, not Jewish and

lacking good prospects. A year later he gave in and the

couple were married in Hinterbrühl on 10 August 1903.

In preparation for the marriage, Edmund renounced

Catholicism on 1 July 1903, joining the Protestant Church

the following day. Henriette also converted to the

Protestant faith. Their son Karl Wolfgang Franz was born

on 27 May 1904, and their daughter Marie Luise Josefine

Alice followed on 24 October 1906. Both children were

christened in the Protestant faith.


The young family divided its time between three locations.

The winters were spent in the spacious flat at Brahmsplatz 7

in the fourth district of Vienna (fig. 8), into which Henriette

and Edmund had moved soon after their marriage. The

great art collector Count Antoine Seilern (1901–78) was

among their neighbours – he lived at Brahmsplatz 6 until

he left for London in 1939. The hunting season was spent at

the Hungarian estate of Vázsony (fig. 9), acquired by Anna

and Leopold von Lieben after their marriage. A hunting

diary that survives in the Motesiczky estate testifies to both

Edmund’s and Henriette’s game scores, and photographs

show them proudly displaying their impressive quarry

(fig. 11). Family history relates that, later in life, Henriette

remained famous for her robust interest in hunting.

One story goes that, while staying at the family estate in

Fig. 8 View of Brahmsplatz 7, Vienna, postcard, 1912

(Motesiczky archive)

Fig. 9 The Motesiczky estate at Vázsony with

Karl, Marie-Louise and Edmund von Motesiczky

in the foreground, photograph, before 1910

(Motesiczky archive)

18 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

Hinterbrühl, she would go out to the first-floor balcony

before breakfast and shoot a hare. In 1936 her daughter

drew a portrait of her as a huntswoman: Hunting (p. 534)

shows Henriette’s bulky figure sitting in a boat, aiming her

shotgun at ducks, two of which have already escaped.

Summers were traditionally spent in Hinterbrühl, a

village in the Wienerwald south-west of Vienna that had

become a fashionable rural retreat for well-to-do members

of Viennese society in the nineteenth century. Motesiczky’s

great-great-uncle Moritz Todesco had built Villa Todesco

at Kröpfelsteig 42 on the edge of the village (fig. 10). Yet

the house did not bring much luck to its initiator, as

Motesiczky recounted: ‘In the 1860s, there was an

Englishwoman and her great love, my great-great-uncle.

There was a hunting accident and the Prince Lichtenstein

was wounded. In the house the woman went off with him

and my great-great-uncle said goodbye to the house with

its big drawing room with its English chintz, and my

great-great-grandfather got it.’ 16 The large estate

comprised an imposing drive, an avenue of lime-trees,

fruit and vegetable gardens, meadows and woodland, a

swimming pool, a tennis court and numerous outbuildings

including stables, a gardener’s house, a greenhouse and

a Swiss chalet, the ‘Schweizerhaus’. The main house itself

had twenty rooms and was furnished sumptuously. By the

end of the nineteenth century it had been handed down

to Anna von Lieben whose son Robert installed electric

light when he was only a teenager, using a nearby mill

to generate power. On her parents’ death Henriette von

Motesiczky inherited the estate.

Fig. 11 Henriette and Edmund von Motesiczky posing with two stags,

photograph, before 1910 (Motesiczky archive)

Fig. 10 Ludwig Hans Fischer, Villa Todesco at Kröpfelsteig 42, Hinterbrühl,

photograph of watercolour on paper, late nineteenth century

(Motesiczky archive)


When Marie-Louise von Motesiczky was only three

years old the family was struck by tragedy. While on a

hunting outing Edmund suddenly fell ill with a twisted

intestine. He died a few days later, on 12 December 1909,

and was buried at the Döblinger Friedhof. Apart from

a brief engagement to the civil servant K. von Erhard 17

shortly after her husband’s death Henriette did not enter

into any other relationships. For a while she found a close

friend in the fatherly figure of Albert Figdor (1843–1927),

a banker who had amassed one of the largest and most

important private arts-and-crafts collections of its time,

consisting of textiles, furniture, tools, cutlery, jewellery,

glassware and ceramics from medieval times to the nineteenth

century. 18 She also remained part of a large social

circle. All the same, as a widow, Henriette repeatedly

suffered from depression, retreating to her bed for days

and leaving the children to their own devices.

Despite this early loss Motesiczky remembered her

childhood as protected and herself as a self-sufficient and

independent child (figs 12 and 13). Yet the unlimited freedom

her mother allowed her proved to be a burden for, as

Motesiczky recalled, she was neither challenged to achieve

a target nor able to develop her own will and resistance

in the face of adversity. 19 Fortunately, she found a lifelong

friend and ‘second mother’ 20 in Marie Hauptmann, a shoemaker’s

daughter from Bohemia. During her first position

in a family in Vienna, the young Marie Hauptmann had

become pregnant by the son of the house. The child had

been given away and Marie Hauptmann accepted a new

position in the Motesiczky household as Marie-Louise’s

wet-nurse. Marie, whose nickname, ‘Ritschi’, was more

commonly used, spent her life working for and living

with the family. Although she spoke no English, she would

eventually follow the Motesiczky family to England. When

she died in 1954, aged sixty-nine, Elias Canetti called her

‘this best person you have ever known’. 21 With Marie in

Doorway, after 1954 (no. 134), Motesiczky paid a touching

posthumous tribute to this ‘kind, funny, innocent,

constantly working, wonderful woman’ who had given her

life to the Motesiczkys. 22 Her daughter, who kept in touch

with her own mother, is the subject of Hilda, c. 1937 (no. 44).

Within the family Marie-Louise soon became known

as ‘Piz’. This nickname was coined when she had grown

so quickly that a relative compared her height to that of

the Swiss mountain Piz Buin. It stuck with her and was

used by relatives and close friends for the rest of her life.

A few people had their own special names for Marie-Louise.

Ritschi, for example, preferred ‘Wepslein’, while Oskar

Kokoschka would call her ‘Florizel’; she in turn invented

her own series of nicknames: she addressed her mother

as ‘Has’, ‘Zipfi’ or ‘Bulli’ and her brother Karl as ‘Mucki’.

Marie-Louise’s education did not follow any guidelines

but was haphazard, short, of poor quality and lacked

discipline. 23 Henriette von Motesiczky did not take a

great interest in her schooling and was, at first, content

with providing private teachers. One of these ‘completely

impossible private tutors’ 24 made his pupil read the

Nibelungenlied in Old High German for a whole winter.

Only as late as 1916 did Marie-Louise enter a school, the

Öffentliches Mariahilfer Mädchenlyzeum in the sixth

district of Vienna. She stayed for only four years, leaving in

1920, when she was just thirteen. Her school career did not

get off to a promising start. She lagged behind the other

Fig. 12 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky as a child, photograph, early 1910s

(Motesiczky archive)

20 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

children – a fact that, with hindsight, Motesiczky attributed

to the want of tuition rather than her lack of ability. She,

for example, still spelt words out loud. 25 Her final report 26

gives a glimpse of the character of the pupil and hints at

traits of the emerging adult. She scored good marks in all

subjects apart from German language, in which she only

just achieved a pass. Certainly exacerbated by the abrupt

termination of her schooling, Motesiczky’s lack of confidence

when it came to writing remained with her into

later life. She was often insecure about spelling, especially in

English, but also in her native German, and frequently made

mistakes. In contrast, her teachers described her drawing as

‘very good’. It was around this time, aged thirteen, that she

first began to draw and discovered her passion for creating

art herself. Most surprising, however, is the vast number of

lessons she missed in her last year at school, a total of 196.

All of these were ‘excused’, so her mother must have

condoned her lack of scholarly enthusiasm. In the end

Marie-Louise gave up school entirely. She wanted to work

in the local Bördelfabrik, a factory producing shoelaces,

braids and trimmings; the fact that she was not taken on

upset her enormously. Henriette von Motesiczky – always

an extremely liberal parent – did not seem very concerned

by her young daughter’s rejection of formal schooling,

reportedly replying to her daughter’s decision: ‘That does

not matter, then you don’t go to school any more.’ 27

Later Motesiczky admitted that leaving school at such

a young age had been a mistake. For the rest of her life she

would feel inferior when it came to intellectual matters. To

make up for her educational shortcomings, Pauly Baldass,

the granddaughter of the modern architect Otto Wagner,

was employed as a part-time governess. Together they

would often visit the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna,

where the curator Ludwig Baldass gave them informal

lessons in art history. By this time Motesiczky was also

taking private art lessons in the Viennese studio of David

Kohn, where she drew with unusual enthusiasm but

found little artistic guidance. 28 In November 1920 Fanny

Löwenstein, another cousin on the maternal side, was

nominally employed as tutor and companion to Marie-

Louise. During the eighteen months she spent with

the Motesiczky family Fanny Löwenstein, nicknamed

‘Camousine’ in a variation of ‘ma cousine’, became a faithful

friend and a stimulating influence on Marie-Louise. In the

spring of 1922 Fanny married Otto Kallir, a passionate art

collector. He was to play an influential role in the Viennese

art world with his Neue Galerie where he introduced artists

including Egon Schiele to the public.

Fig. 13 Carl Theodor von Blaatz, Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 1911,

oil on board, 560 × 377 mm (Marie-Louise von Motesiczky

Charitable Trust, London)


artistic training

Just after leaving school in 1920 Motesiczky met the person

who would become the most important early influence on

her work: Max Beckmann (1884–1950). The German painter

had been introduced to the Motesiczkys by their relative

Irma Simon. Later in life Motesiczky likened Beckmann’s

arrival in Hinterbrühl to that of a ‘winged Martian’ on

earth, 29 so surprised was the young girl by the presence of

this powerful character who played with a grasshopper and

allowed Motesiczky to stay awake the whole night, going

for walks and playing tennis. As an artist of whose oeuvre

Motesiczky at that time only knew the graphic work, and

as a person of high moral values, tact and humanity,

Beckmann proceeded to change Motesiczky’s world. Even

on that first brief visit, the painter left a strong and lasting

impression on her. He was to become a lifelong friend. Later,

Motesiczky would go further in defining Beckmann’s role in

her life by characterizing her relationship with him as that

of a child with a father, having lost her own so early on. 30

In 1922, however, the sixteen-year-old Motesiczky went

through ‘some difficult personal experiences’ 31 when her

first love turned into ‘a very tragic, strange affair’. 32 For

several years she had been hopelessly in love with her

cousin Witold Schey (fig. 14), some fifteen years her elder,

who, as a friend of her mother, frequently visited the

family and spent a lot of time with the girl, recounting

stories from the First World War in which he had been a

soldier. As Motesiczky recalled afterwards, her mother had

hoped the two would marry. When Witold Schey suddenly

got engaged to Margarete Mayer, he was ordered to stop

visiting. In order to keep the desperate Marie-Louise

away from the wedding and to allow her to recover from

her bitter disappointment she was sent to her aunt Ilse

Leembruggen, her mother’s older sister who had married

the Dutch entrepreneur Willem Leembruggen in 1895 and

settled in the Netherlands.

The few months in The Hague had a profound artistic

effect on Motesiczky. It was here that she discovered the

paintings of Vincent van Gogh, whose strong colours came

as a revelation to her. She later remembered one painting

in particular, The Bridge: ‘one had never seen a light like

this before’. 33 Subsequently she learned more about van

Gogh by reading Julius Meier-Graefe’s 1921 publication,

Vincent, which, back in Vienna, must have served as inspiration

in several instances: Small Roulette, 1924 (no. 1), and Stool,

1926 (no. 10), both demonstrate Motesiczky’s admiration for

van Gogh. The museums in the Netherlands also opened her

Fig. 14 Witold Schey in military uniform,

photograph, 1910s (Motesiczky archive)

eyes to the Dutch school, of which she particularly liked

Jan Steen, Frans Hals and Vermeer. Most importantly,

however, Motesiczky received inspirational artistic training.

Following the example of her cousins, she attended the

private art school of the Czech painter Carola Machotka

in The Hague. 34 It was here that she became addicted

to painting. Her teacher, who ‘was very sensible and let

me draw from nature’, 35 made a strong impression on

Motesiczky and helped shape her future:

In these three months of intensive drawing mainly

in charcoal and pastel I decided that this should

become my life. I owe much to the seriousness with

which C.M. encouraged us to work . . . The first thing

she really praised was a small sketch of a little dirty

street urchin, maybe a five-year-old. I did not think

it much because it had to be done fast and there

was no time to go into details. ‘You see, you have

caught the essence – this is just right.’ I was happy

and thought that was a good way of doing it 36

Towards the end of her stay in the Netherlands

Motesiczky was again optimistically looking into the

22 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

future: ‘One thing is certain . . . that these three months

were the beginning of a new life’. 37

On her return to Vienna, Motesiczky was determined

to follow an artistic career although more encouragement

and support was needed to boost her self-confidence and

strengthen her belief in her talent. One person who gave

the assurance she needed was Käthe von Porada, a close

friend of her mother and an ardent admirer of Max

Beckmann. Born in Berlin to a Viennese mother in 1891,

Käthe von Porada had been trying to escape from her

marriage to an Austrian aristocrat when she had met

Max Beckmann and, on falling in love with his work, had

become his patron. Beckmann paid tribute to their friendship

in the portrait Bildnis Käthe von Porada, 1924 (Städel

Museum, Frankfurt am Main, fig. 47). In the same year

Kati, as she was known to the Motesiczky family, wrote the

following encouraging poem for Motesiczky:

You are healthy, and young, and rich, and beautiful,

Often you could go home accompanied!

You possess talent – maybe even genius –

A lot of temperament and some imagination . . .

You are pampered and everybody likes you,

The highest gentlemen of all honour you: . . .

What more do you want?! – Think of point: 1–10

And leave sadness behind! 38

A colourful drawing that shows Motesiczky as an artist,

brandishing her palette, accompanies the poem and testifies

to Porada’s artistic skills. Right up to Porada’s death in 1985

Motesiczky kept in touch with her: she became a wellknown

fashion writer and had relationships with literary

figures such as Gottfried Benn and Albert Paraz. Towards

the end of her life, Porada praised Motesiczky as ‘probably

the wisest woman I know, my only friend’. 39

Crucial support at the beginning of Motesiczky’s

career came also from Heinrich Simon (1880–1941), the

editor-in-chief of the Frankfurter Zeitung and husband of

Irma. Simon was an extraordinarily cultured man. Apart

from playing the piano extremely well, he was also a great

connoisseur and collector of modern art. He counted Max

Beckmann among his favourite artists and published a

monograph on the painter in 1919. The Simons always stayed

with the Motesiczkys when they came to Vienna. On one of

these occasions Heinrich Simon expressed his wish to see

the drawings Marie-Louise had made in the Netherlands.

She obliged and was rewarded with praise: ‘He spoke

seriously with me – like the father I lacked: “Art is a thorny

path. You have to work regularly and use your time well. But

I think you have the right to set out on that path.”’ 40

Simon’s remarks fell on fertile ground. In a statement

entitled Meine Zukunftspläne o. Berufswahl (My Plans for

the Future or Choice of Profession), which probably dates

from around this time, Motesiczky poured out her reasons

for wanting to become an artist while also clearly stating

her awareness of the problems involved:

If I did say now I wanted to be a painter it would

mean to become an artist. This however one cannot

become but only be or not be. Yet I have always

clearly known that the capturing of reality and the

processing of impressions require long-standing

practice and the learning of the means of expression

the highest will-power and concentration. 41

By now determined to pursue an artistic career,

Motesiczky decided to take up Heinrich Simon’s invitation

to come to Frankfurt am Main, where she joined the

Städelschule in 1924. She attended classes in ‘Freie Malerei’

(open class for painting) under Professor Johann Vincenz

Cissarz for about three months. She also, briefly, studied

with Professor Franz Karl Delavilla. In the beginning,

Motesiczky was enthusiastic about the school, working

hard and enjoying the lessons. She did, however, complain

about one of her teachers, who talked a lot and did not

manage to convey much, and resorted to learning from

her fellow students’ mistakes. 42

During her time in Frankfurt, Motesiczky stayed with

Heinrich and Irma Simon in their house at Untermainkai 3

and took part in their famous Friday gatherings, which

brought together a circle of intellectuals who shaped the

cultural scene in the city. Among the regular guests were

the conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, the writers Rudolf

Binding, Benno Reifenberg and Fritz von Unruh, Fritz

Wichert, the director of the Frankfurter Schule für freie

und angewandte Kunst, Georg Swarzenski, director of

the Städel Museum, the actor Max Pallenberg, and

Max Beckmann. It was in Frankfurt that Motesiczky saw

Beckmann’s paintings for the first time. The impression

his paintings made on her may have contributed to the fact

that her own attempts soon felt rather feeble and came to an

early end: ‘I went away without showing even a line of my

school drawings. The disgrace was great, but I would rather

have died than show something bad. It was the whole story

of a large school – fast, pointless life-drawings, I couldn’t

find my feet there.’ 43 Back in Austria, she spent the summer

in Hinterbrühl and took up oil painting which finally

resulted in works she was happy with. Small Roulette, the


first painting that has survived in the Motesiczky estate,

is dated 1924 (no. 1). That autumn she joined the Kunstgewerbeschule

in Vienna, attending classes in drawing

and sculpture led by Professor Adolf Boehm and Professor

Erich Mallina. Unfortunately she did not enjoy her time

there and left after just one term, later commenting briefly:

‘A dusty studio. Life model.’ 44

During her stay in the Netherlands, Motesiczky had

met Mathilde von Kaulbach (1904–86), a daughter of the

Munich-based painter. In a letter to her mother Motesiczky

sang her praises, pointing out that she was ‘as pretty as

a picture’. 45 In 1923 Mathilde von Kaulbach arrived in

Vienna to pursue her singing career. She stayed with the

Motesiczkys at their Brahmsplatz flat and soon became

a close friend. Several decades later she would describe

her relationship with Henriette as that of a mother to her

daughter, while Marie-Louise was like a sister to her. 46

It was Henriette who invented the famous nickname,

adopted by Max Beckmann, by which Mathilde von

Kaulbach, as the artist’s wife and subject of numerous

paintings, would become well known: Quappi – inspired

by the surname’s closeness to Kaulquappe (tadpole). And it

was Marie-Louise who first introduced Quappi to prints by

Max Beckmann, of which she possessed two – the woodcut

Selbstporträt of 1922 (fig. 15) and a lithograph – and

subsequently to the artist himself, when he visited the

Motesiczkys at Brahmsplatz in 1924 (fig. 16). Quappi

became Beckmann’s second wife just one year later, 47 and

Marie-Louise was the first to know the good news. 48 The

close relationship between the newly-weds and Motesiczky

also bore artistic fruit. In 1928 Beckmann painted Zwei

Damen am Fenster, a double portrait of Quappi and

Marie-Louise, that records their friendship (fig. 17). In

1924 he had already drawn a portrait of Motesiczky (fig. 18)

as well as another double portrait (fig. 19).

Between 1925 and 1927 Motesiczky spent long periods of

time, often in the winter, in Paris where she studied at the

Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Montparnasse, an art

school which, unfortunately, she found rather unsatisfactory.

She was accompanied by her Dutch friend and fellow artist

Berthe Edersheim (1901–93) whom she had met during

her stay in the Netherlands. Motesiczky first lodged with

the widow of a general but quickly escaped and moved

to the Hotel Recamier, a small establishment on Place

Saint-Sulpice. In 1926 the two friends rented a studio that

belonged to a Polish dancer who ‘danced by night, but

during the day she slept behind a screen’. 49 They hired

a model, the caretaker who came to light the fire in the

Fig. 15 Max Beckmann, Selbstporträt, 1922,

woodcut on paper, 222 × 154 mm (Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London)

Fig. 16 Max Beckmann with Marie-Louise von Motesiczky (left) and

Mathilde von Kaulbach (right), photograph, 1924 (Motesiczky archive)

24 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

Fig. 17 Max Beckmann, Zwei Damen am Fenster,

1928, oil on canvas, 1090 × 850 mm (Saarland

Museum, Saarbrücken)

Fig. 18 Max Beckmann,

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 1924,

graphite on paper, 465 × 315 mm

(Marie-Louise von Motesiczky

Charitable Trust, London)

Fig. 19 Max Beckmann,

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky

und Mathilde von Kaulbach, 1924,

lithographic chalk on paper,

465 × 315 mm (Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky Charitable Trust,



26 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

Fig. 20 Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky as Mondblüte in the

Chinese play Der verwechselte

Bräutigam, performed at the

Hotel Frankfurter Hof on

7 April 1927, photograph

(Motesiczky archive)

studio, and Motesiczky painted Workman, Paris (no. 12).

When Beckmann saw this portrait he praised it, saying

that at that young age ‘he had not got so far’. 50 He invited

Marie-Louise to join his master-class at the Städelschule

in Frankfurt am Main, where he had held a teaching post

since 1925. Motesiczky took up this offer in the academic

year 1927/8, probably starting after Christmas (figs 20 and

21). Her experiences as Beckmann’s pupil are recorded

in the text Max Beckmann als Lehrer. Erinnerungen einer

Schülerin des Malers. This eloquent tribute and rare

testimonial, written with Elias Canetti’s help and encouragement

some thirty-five years later, gives a detailed

insight into Beckmann’s teaching methods. 51

Motesiczky acknowledged that in her paintings created

in Paris she was already inspired by Beckmann’s work and

unconsciously adopted his style. His influence gave her

great confidence and resulted in works that, in their

treatment of the surface, their dark outlines and static

compositions, convey something of her teacher’s painterly

rigour and strength. 52 Early on, when he was shown one of

her drawings, Beckmann acknowledged this undeniable

influence, remarking: ‘I am astonished that you understand

me so well.’ 53 Yet from the beginning Motesiczky’s paintings

had a softer, more feminine, touch. Shaking off her

teacher’s direct influence, she would develop her own

distinctive style and subject matter over the following

years. Apart from showing her a way of painting that

served as the basis for her own efforts, Beckmann’s main

contribution to Motesiczky’s art was to provide her with

the courage to tackle the task of painting and to persuade

her to take herself seriously as an artist. Motesiczky was

adamant that Beckmann did not attempt to re-create himself

in his students, but rather encouraged them to find their

true identities: ‘He believed that all he could do was to

demonstrate to his pupils what he thought right for himself;

after that it was up to them to find their own way.’ 54

Throughout Beckmann’s life, his appreciation of

Motesiczky’s work was an unfailing source of encouragement

to her. Comments including ‘Thank you for the

photos. Congratulations. Carry on like this. There is a lot of

serious work. You must keep it up!!’ 55 may have led to such

happy and proud statements as: ‘By the way, I showed

Becki photos of my paintings and he was rather pleased –

made progress he said – you know that I am in a good

mood because of it!!’ 56 While she attended his master-class

Beckmann fuelled Motesiczky’s ambition by comparing her

with Paula Modersohn-Becker, ‘the best women painter in

Germany – well, you have every chance of succeeding her

. . . But don’t get a swollen head, you aren’t there yet’. 57 In

1947, when Motesiczky visited Beckmann in Amsterdam

and showed him photos of her recent works, he admired

her independent style and unique ‘dreamlike lyricism’. 58

Taking up his earlier comparison he praised her for almost

having become another Modersohn-Becker, an aim she

would reach in a few years’ time if she worked hard. He

continued to push her. Even the year before his death he

urged her to paint: ‘Damn it Pizchen, you really do possess

a great talent, paint a few good pictures and the world will

become beautiful again’. 59

At Beckmann’s master-class Motesiczky was given the

nickname ‘Motte’. She made a number of lasting friends

among her fellow students, including Theo Garve (1902–87)

and Karl Tratt (1900–1937). Tratt fell passionately in love

with Motesiczky – a feeling that was not reciprocated. In

the summer of 1928 he visited her in Hinterbrühl and they

spent their time painting together. Motesiczky, for example,

worked on Two Girls (no. 19), a painting of a couple of local

girls that is now lost. Knowing that his advances would not

be accepted, Tratt expressed the following dream: ‘I wish

I had a lot of money, then I would marry you and you

could keep two lovers, to the horror of your aunts and

relatives.’ 60 Motesiczky subsequently attempted to help

Tratt financially. She purchased three of his paintings

and introduced him to Käthe von Porada, who became

a patron. Impoverished and ill, Tratt died the day after

his thirty-seventh birthday.

Fig. 21 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky with her fellow pupils Karl Tratt

(left) and Theo Garve (right) on a bench on the bank of the river Main in

front of the Städel in Frankfurt am Main, photograph, 1927/8

(Motesiczky archive)


Right from the start of her artistic career, Motesiczky

struggled with two problems that she would never really

overcome: her reluctance to show her work and her inability

to part with it. Already in 1927, Beckmann had urged her,

probably in vain, to bring pictures with her to Frankfurt so

that they could be shown. 61 He knew that ‘Each clash with

the outside world, and therefore also with criticism, is

educational’. 62 In order to expose her art to public scrutiny

and thus, vitally, enable her to develop successfully, he

repeatedly advised her to sell herself better and exhibit her

work. On one occasion he pressed submission forms into

her hands, saying: ‘You must send in . . . otherwise you

always chase after life.’ 63 Yet Motesiczky seemed content

with creating new paintings rather than spending her time

and energy on trying to promote them and risk the embarrassment

of rejection. For many years her art grew further

removed from public opinion. This reclusiveness was

possible because, throughout her life, she did not depend

on selling her art for a living. She lived comfortably on

the income that the family wealth, albeit drastically

reduced after 1938, provided and was not forced either

to earn money through her art or to take up a paid job.

Motesiczky’s attitude to exhibiting her work would change

with her growing confidence as an artist, as a critic

remarked in 1944: ‘Marie-Louise Motesicky is one of those

who prefer not to exhibit before they are sure that they have

something to show.’ 64 During her life, Motesiczky would

show her work in solo exhibitions at fifteen venues, and

would also participate in over twenty group shows. This

scant public exposure might seem unusual for a career that

spanned seven decades. Yet, considering her aversion to

the exposure of her art, these exhibitions prove her strong,

if often surpressed, urge to gain acknowledgement as an

artist. Comments such as ‘external success was always

unimportant to her’ 65 are misconceived.

As well as having an aversion to exhibiting her paintings

Motesiczky found it extremely difficult to part with them.

This reluctance to sell may be explained by her own observation

that the paintings were like children to her. In her

diary of 1955 she made the following plea: ‘God send me

children even if they are only paintings’. 66 There are

numerous anecdotes recounting how prospective buyers

tried to humour Motesiczky in order to make her agree to

a sale. Generally, she would sell a painting only to an individual

she liked. It could sometimes take months or even

years for her to make up her mind. Once she had resolved

to part with a painting, she might request an unusual

method of payment (such as a pair of handmade shoes) or

even decide to give it as a gift. Occasionally she refused to

sell for reasons that were probably associated with the work

of art itself. When, after a visit to her house in 1986, the

conductor André Previn expressed an interest in purchasing

Birthday, 1962 (no. 184), Motesiczky was unwilling to let him

have the still-life. It can only be assumed that the painting

possessed for her a special sentimental value that made

her want to keep it. Her reluctance to sell was keenly felt by

hopeful admirers. While the actor Alec Guinness admitted

that he would ‘hanker for a painting by Marie Louise von

Motesiczky’, 67 the artist toyed with the idea of painting his

portrait. 68 In his diary Alec Guinness described a subsequent

visit to Chesterford Gardens:

In afternoon collected Alan Bennett and we went

to Madame Marie-Louise M—’s flat to look at her

paintings. On the whole liked them very much.

And her. Couldn’t very well discuss prices in front of

Alan – and indeed wasn’t very sure if she was willing

to sell. The one I liked most was of an Italian girl’s

head [probably Spanish Girl, 1928, no. 21] but she said

that belonged to someone in Paris. The portraits of

her mother are marvellous but I’m sure she wouldn’t

part with . . . We were there for an hour and a half

and I think the poor old lady got a bit fatigued – she

began to relapse into German phrases. 69

Yet, eventually, for reasons unknown neither the purchase

nor the portrait were carried out.

Following her studies under Beckmann, Motesiczky

decided to continue her education in Berlin. For the

academic years 1928/9 and 1929/30 she was enrolled in the

Studien-Atelier für Malerei und Plastik Robert Erdmann in

Charlottenburg, where she studied life drawing. According

to Max Beckmann she struggled with her new life: ‘Poor

Pizchen is very desperate about Berlin and has to fight

hard. – Nevertheless it’s good for her.’ 70 Motesiczky had

particular difficulties in coming to terms with the practical

aspects of her independent lifestyle: ‘I am going to die,

housework, housework, housework!!’ 71 Apart from the

burdensome chores, Motesiczky had to contend with

doubts about her own artistic ability, which she fought

with a brave tenacity:

Think how hard it is to paint good pictures, to make

progress, to become someone, think of the women

who are singers, only one in a hundred succeeds.

And the women artists!! Every hundred years one of

them makes it!! Therefore it is hard because even if

28 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

you are nothing special you need strength and

perseverance to produce reasonably good works . . .

The funny thing is that, although life has so far

proved itself as an interesting yet rather dubious

dame, I still expect miracles (in general) or as they

say so charmingly here, I want to light my cigarettes

on the stars. 72

By chance, she bumped into the Austrian painter

Wolfgang Paalen (1905–59) whom she knew from Paris.

To Motesiczky’s horror he was now making abstract

paintings which were being shown at the Galerie Flechtheim

in Berlin. 73 She would meet Paalen again in 1956, on a trip

to Mexico: he had settled there and had become a wellknown

Surrealist painter. Together, they undertook trips

in his jeep and explored the local villages and forests.

Motesiczky was charmed by Paalen, who confessed to

having been in love with her when he was young. 74 Now

his feelings were rekindled and he even toyed with the idea

of proposing to Motesiczky. 75 Unsure about how to react,

she seems to have delayed her response. When Paalen

committed suicide soon afterwards, Elias Canetti blamed

her lack of sympathy for his death. 76

early career

While living in Berlin, Motesiczky started a relationship

with the fellow artist and illustrator Siegfried Sebba

(1897–1975; fig. 22), whom she had first encountered in

Heinrich Simon’s circle when he was working for the

Frankfurter Zeitung. The affair must have lasted several

years but, since none of the numerous letters by Sebba

in the artist’s estate is dated, it is impossible to be precise.

Knowing that her mother did not approve of Sebba, who

was Jewish but neither aristocratic nor wealthy, Motesiczky

kept the relationship secret. Only occasionally do her

letters contain references to him, but these hint at her utter

happiness. 77 Sebba was always extremely appreciative of

Motesiczky’s work, encouraging her not to be distracted

and praising her talent: ‘Don’t be sad and restless because

of work and all. If I was as naturally gifted for painting as

you are, I would be much happier.’ 78 In the early years of

their relationship Motesiczky was pregnant with Sebba’s

child at least once but felt unable to have the baby and

decided on an abortion. 79 It is unclear when the affair

turned into a friendship, but in 1934 they were still

discussing leaving Europe for the United States. Motesiczky,

on travelling there, made enquiries about their possible

emigration. By then Sebba had already left Nazi Germany

and gone into exile. In 1932, in order to improve his

financial position, Sebba had accepted a post as stage

designer at the Hessisches Landestheater in Darmstadt

where his sets, which included that for André Gide’s Oedipus,

were critically acclaimed. After the National Socialist

seizure of power he fled to Basle, leaving all his works

behind in his Berlin studio. He moved to Stockholm the

following year and worked there in a theatre. He was also

in contact with Motesiczky’s brother Karl (fig. 23), who

himself had emigrated to Norway and attempted to help

Sebba to get work in Oslo. By the autumn of 1935 Sebba

seemed to have given up hope of making a living in

Europe. He paid a farewell visit to Motesiczky in Vienna

and, in the spring of the following year, finally left for

Palestine. There he became a well-known artist, creating

works such as Sheep-shearing, 1947 (Tel Aviv Museum of

Art, Tel Aviv), which became ‘the most popular painting

of modern Israel’. 80 For the rest of her life, Motesiczky

appears to have felt a lingering sadness about the end

of her relationship with Siegfried Sebba. They met

again in 1968 when he had moved back to Germany,

and Motesiczky travelled to Israel to see a retrospective

exhibition of his work in 1994. She subsequently provided

the funds to make a video of his work.

Motesiczky’s relationship with Sebba was not the only

one she had in the 1920s and 1930s. As a beautiful young

woman she had many admirers, generally very well

educated, sometimes older men. Most of her suitors were

Fig. 22 Siegfried Sebba, photograph, c. 1930

(Motesiczky archive)


‘unsuitable’ for they were either married or deemed socially

unacceptable (as in the case of Siegfried Sebba). Some, like

Karl Tratt, found their feelings unrequited, yet several men

managed to capture her heart. In the mid-1920s she was

in love with Christoph Bernoulli (1897–1981), the Swiss art

historian, writer and publisher. They had met in Frankfurt

where Bernoulli, who worked for the Frankfurter Zeitung,

was part of the Simon circle. Their relationship ended in

1926 when he married. In 1930 Motesiczky befriended the

American architecture student Paul Montgomery Doering,

who rented the small flat at Brahmsplatz 7 which the

Motesiczkys owned. It was situated on the fourth floor,

above their own flat. How long their relationship lasted

is not known. Even the Austrian novelist Heimito von

Doderer (1896–1966), a friend of her brother Karl, was

drawn to Marie-Louise. Karl von Motesiczky had first

met Doderer in 1924 and soon supported his career both

financially and by arranging public readings of his work.

Doderer in turn dedicated a poem to Marie-Louise, probably

written during a visit to Hinterbrühl in September 1928.

In the first line he enigmatically refers to an amorous

approach that, after some initial resistance, might have

been successful:

Fig. 23 Karl von Motesiczky with his cello, photograph, c. 1940

(Motesiczky archive)

Lively Memory

(for marialouise von motesiczky)

The trembling birch forest, rejecting-granting girl!

the farm stood brown against the sky and the snow

tongues white on the mountain,

the boy ran, stumbling, in fears and joys,

the work of creation shone in the sun,

the summits divided the clouds, the wind carried

gossamer. 81

The German philosopher Ernst Bloch (1885–1977) also

appears to have been close to Motesiczky, as towards

the end of his life he admitted to a mutual friend, the art

historian and journalist Benno Reifenberg, that ‘we almost

married’. 82 While no details are known about Motesiczky’s

friendship with Bloch, another important early relationship,

though shrouded in secret, is typical of the artist’s

later choice of men. In 1925 she met the Hungarian Baron

Lajos Hatvany (1880–1961), also known as Ludwig Deutsch,

a sophisticated writer (fig. 44). Hatvany was also the

extremely wealthy owner of a sugar factory and a generous

patron of the arts who counted Thomas Mann among his

friends. His opposition to the Horthy regime in Hungary

forced him into a ten-year political exile, part of which he

spent in Vienna. Being considerably older than Motesiczky,

he was already married to the sculptor and writer Christa

Winsloe when they met. Both correspondence and meetings

therefore had to be conducted with the utmost secrecy and

Hatvany always used his nickname, Laczi. While staying in

the Hermesvilla in Vienna he wrote the following characterization

of his relationship with Motesiczky: ‘you are my

beloved excess, necessary luxury, – more than I deserve.

My happiness (marriage) is perfect – and still I miss you,

something is missing when you are gone. In my wife I have

everything, – you are the surplus, – I miss the surplus.’ 83

Hatvany intensely disliked his time in exile, although he

moved in social circles appropriate to his origin, belonging

for example to the famous Viennese salon of Eugenie

Schwarzwald. He later confessed: ‘With the exception of

a few highlights, which your modesty prohibits me from

describing, I think with horror of my Viennese years. The

exile was a great disease’. 84 The affair ended in 1927 when

Hatvany voluntarily returned to Hungary. He was subsequently

imprisoned and, upon his release, was prohibited

from appearing in public and writing for newspapers. He

emigrated to England in 1938, spent the Second World War

in Oxford and returned to Hungary after the war.

30 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

Motesiczky commemorated their relationship in Still-life

with Tulips, 1926 (no. 11), in which a book bears the inscription

‘Laczi’, presumably referring to one of his publications

Motesiczky was currently reading.

Numerous letters in the artist’s estate bear witness to

another love affair in the mid-1930s that also had to be

conducted in secret. This time Motesiczky chose her

cousin Herbert Schey, the twin brother of Witold Schey,

with whom she had fallen in love unhappily as a teenager.

In order to keep the affair from his wife, Herbert Schey

destroyed all of Motesiczky’s letters as he read them.

Numerous letters by him, signed off with ‘#’ in imitation

of his initial, survive in the artist’s estate. They indicate that

the relationship must have started in early 1937. One letter

contains the following declaration of love: ‘You are really

a sweet and rare being. I . . . am foolish enough to give it

to you in black and white: that maybe I have never been so

truly in love with someone as I now feel for you.’ 85 Despite

all attempts at keeping their relationship secret, Henriette

von Motesiczky, who often invited Herbert Schey – sometimes

with his wife – to her home, seems to have had her

suspicions yet did not interfere. In May 1938, just a few

weeks after Motesiczky’s departure from her native country,

Herbert Schey and his wife emigrated to Brussels, moving

on to the United States, where they settled.

The 1930s, however, had still more personal turbulence

in store. In the early years of the decade, her family’s

history of consulting psychoanalysts finally caught up

with Motesiczky. Probably from 1932 until at least 1936 she

underwent psychoanalytical treatment with the Freudian

analyst Paul Federn, whom she later described as one of

her mentors. The reason for this is unknown, but may be

related to her struggle to combine her love life and her

familial duties with her efforts to establish herself as an

artist. Like her brother Karl, who had ample experience of

psychiatrists, Marie-Louise felt obliged to keep her therapy

a secret from her mother and turned to Kees Leembruggen,

a Dutch relative, for financial help with the fees. Although a

need for psychoanalytical help ran in the family, this appears

to have been Motesiczky’s only encounter. Later in life she

shared Elias Canetti’s dislike of psychoanalysis, calling its

practitioners a ‘presumptuous and self-confident gang’ of

‘devils’. 86 Her feelings are vividly expressed in the sinister

painting Psychoanalyst, 1962 (no. 183).

Against this background, it was probably a bold step,

when, in April 1933, Motesiczky ventured the first public

display of her paintings. She showed two works, The

Balcony, 1929 (no. 30), and an unidentified still-life, in the

‘Frühjahrsausstellung des Hagenbundes’ in her home city.

Founded in 1900, the Hagenbund was a Viennese artists’

association midway between the conservative Künstlerhaus

and the breakaway Secession. In the 1920s, the Hagenbund

enjoyed the reputation of being the most modern avantgarde

movement in Vienna. 87 Women, at first completely

rejected as members, were later occasionally accepted as

associate members. Motesiczky exhibited as one of the

guests the Hagenbund allowed to join their shows.

Although her participation in this exhibition is not well

known and not mentioned in later reviews, it left a lasting

mark on the artist as her first public exposure. Motesiczky

later maintained that, appalled by a devastating review,

she subsequently refused to show her works in her native

country. However, the contemporary reviewers of the

Hagenbund exhibition were not as critical as Motesiczky

claims. The critic of the Neues Wiener Journal, for example,

ignored all works by younger artists (with the exception

of one small painting) by summarily dismissing them. 88

The Reichspost published the article that probably stayed

in Motesiczky’s memory, for here she was accused of

‘leaving herself wide open in format and composition and

precariously approaching kitsch’. 89 Yet this negative view

was counterbalanced by a positive one in the Neues Wiener

Abendblatt, which singled out her works: ‘We should further

add laudably . . . M. L. Motesiecky’. 90 It is not known

whether she chose to ignore the praise and focus on the

rebuke or whether she had been unaware of the positive

reception by a large number of visitors. In any case, she

stuck resolutely to her decision and did not exhibit in

Austria for over thirty years. Her next exhibition, in 1939,

was to take place in the relative anonymity of The Hague,

after she was forced to leave her homeland.

These first reviews reveal confusion about the correct

spelling of the artist’s name, which would last all her life.

Now the convention is to spell her name Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky, but various versions of both her Christian

names and her surname were used throughout her lifetime.

Variations of her first names range from the original

‘Marie Luise’ on her certificate of baptism to ‘Marie Louise’,

‘Marialouise’ 91 and ‘Marieluise’. 92 By far the greatest problem

was presented by her surname, which must have been difficult

to pronounce, let alone spell, a problem that became

particularly acute after her emigration to England. While

most often the ‘z’ is omitted, one comes across a number

of other, sometimes bizarre, misspellings. Some resorted

to spelling it ‘Moteschitzky’, 93 presumably in imitation of

its pronunciation. Motesiczky herself did not use the


aristocratic ‘von’ and even left out the hyphen between

her Christian names.

In the 1930s Motesiczky devoted most of her time

to painting. She worked either in the Viennese flat or in

Hinterbrühl, where she had her own studio in one of the

outbuildings. A substantial amount of time was spent

travelling, visiting, for example the United States, Spain,

Italy and, in 1937, the World Fair in Paris. She also occasionally

saw the Beckmanns. During these relatively quiet

and productive years the Motesiczky family found a new

friend, the Austrian painter Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980).

According to the composer Gian Carlo Menotti, who,

together with his friend and fellow-musician Samuel

Barber rented a flat from the Motesiczkys in the winter of

1933/4, Kokoschka had painted a portrait of Henriette von

Motesiczky in the nude which she kept in her bedroom. 94

Menotti would have been familiar with Henriette von

Motesiczky’s bedroom, as her ornate dressing table

became an inspiration for, and features prominently in,

his first major work, the opera Amelia al Ballo (Amelia

goes to the Ball), which had its world première at the

Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1937 and made its

composer famous overnight. Kokoschka’s painting,

unfortunately, has not been identified and may be lost.

The friendship between the Kokoschkas and the

Motesiczkys proved durable and was resumed when

Kokoschka, together with his wife Olda, met the

Motesiczkys again in England.

By 1935 the financial situation of the Motesiczky family

became precarious. Nine years earlier they had lost half

their fortune when, amid the general economic decline,

the family bank Auspitz, Lieben & Co. crashed, costing

Henriette von Motesiczky an estimated 20,000 Schillings a

year in income. 95 Now Henk de Waal, the Dutch relative who

was looking after their money, was warning them urgently

to cut back their expenditure. 96 For a number of years the

family had spent more than the interest earned on their

capital which was, therefore, dwindling. In 1933, for

example, they had needed a sum total of 122,525 Schillings

while their income had only amounted to about 60,000

Schillings. The three members of the family appear to

have enjoyed a relatively grand lifestyle, keeping the flat

on Brahmsplatz as well as the estate in Hinterbrühl, paying

for a number of staff, travelling frequently, giving expensive

presents and occasionally purchasing paintings such as

one by Max Beckmann, bought for 1,061 Schillings in 1933.

Records show, for example, that in the twelve months

between October 1929 and September 1930 Marie-Louise

spent 3,530 Marks on clothes, while needing only 22 Marks

to purchase paint. 97 In 1933 she received an annual

allowance of 9,108 Schillings. Karl, who at the time was

living in Denmark and had been undergoing costly

psychoanalytic treatment with the controversial analyst

Wilhelm Reich for at least two years, needed 17,614

Schillings and was told to economize drastically. Henriette

proved to be a shrewd businesswoman. By saving on the

running of her Viennese household and limiting Karl’s

expenses to 7,098 Schillings she reached the necessary

target and spent only 85,100 Schillings in 1934. 98 Karl’s

belt-tightening, however, was not entirely voluntary.

Presumably on behalf of her mother, Marie-Louise wrote

a letter to Reich asking him to complete Karl’s analysis as

soon as a satisfying conclusion could be reached. With his

health restored Karl was then expected to start earning his

living. 99 Still more measures had to be taken in 1935 and

the family, having dismissed Henk de Waal, turned to Rein

Bakker, a lawyer from The Hague, for advice. He suggested

leaving the country for a few years to save on tax and

again urged Karl to break away from Reich. 100 Following

Bakker’s advice, and to protect Marie-Louise from Karl’s

extravagance, Ilse Leembruggen – who was a well-known

benefactress – started some time before the war to pay

a small monthly amount to Motesiczky. When Motesiczky

had to flee to England she wrote to Bakker suggesting

that the payments stop, ‘since Tante Ilse now surely had

to help so many people in more urgent need’. 101

into exile

Motesiczky’s world was turned upside down in March

1938 when the National Socialists marched into Austria.

Although uninterested in and uninformed about politics,

she had been instinctively aware of the imminent threat

for some time. One episode that illustrated the impending

disaster particularly stood out in her memory. While

playing tennis, which she loved but was not very good at,

in summer 1937, the uncanny shouts of ‘Sieg Heil’ from

Austrian Nazis frightened her. As was the case with many

assimilated Jews in Germany and Austria, the rise of the

National Socialist party in neighbouring Germany had

made her aware of her Jewish roots for the first time –

something that had never mattered in her life before. She

was panic-stricken at the Anschluß on 12 March 1938 and

abruptly decided to leave the country the following day

with her mother. They travelled on their Czech passports,

acquired at the end of the First World War when all subjects

32 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were allowed to choose

their nationality.

Not knowing how long their enforced absence from

home would be, they went first to the Netherlands, where

they could count on Ilse Leembruggen’s help and make use

of their Dutch bank account. After moving several times,

renting rooms at the Pension Zonnetij and the Hotel Pays-

Bas in Amsterdam for a while, they eventually went to

stay in a boarding house in Hilversum where Karl visited

them in the autumn. While Henriette von Motesiczky ‘felt

very lost in the new Dutch surroundings’, 102 her daughter

carried on painting, creating works such as Self-portrait

with Red Hat (no. 47), which pays tribute to an unidentified

lover left behind, and Still-life with Sheep (no. 48), arranged

on an ironing-board. Socially, they lived a rather secluded

life, meeting friends only occasionally.

Among the few people with whom they maintained

regular contact were Max and Quappi Beckmann, who had

emigrated to Amsterdam after his work had been included

in the infamous Munich exhibition of ‘degenerate’ art in

1937. One day, when the couple visited the Motesiczkys,

they enjoyed an outing together. In return, Motesiczky

called on the Beckmanns, who had set up home in an old

tobacco warehouse in the centre of the city. On her birthday

in 1938 Beckmann gave her a drawing of a beach scene

that is still in the artist’s estate (fig. 24). Being aware of the

dire economic conditions under which the couple had to

live, Motesiczky tried to help improve their situation.

Towards the end of her life she revealed that Beckmann

had been so desperate that he was toying with the idea of

commiting suicide – refraining from it only for Quappi’s

sake. 103 She turned to her aunt, suggesting that Ilse support

the Beckmanns financially by purchasing works of art.

Eventually, three paintings entered the Leembruggen

collection. The several hundred guilders paid for them

relieved the most immediate pressure of poverty. 104 These

transactions, which continued even after Ilse Leembruggen

had returned from the transit camp of Westerbork where

she was sent several times for brief periods, marked the

beginning of a friendship between the Beckmanns and Ilse

Leembruggen, whom Beckmann refers to simply as ‘Tante

Ilse’ in his diaries of the time. 105 Motesiczky’s concern for

her teacher’s wellbeing continued even after she had left

the Netherlands. Towards the end of the war her fear for

his safety is evident in her diary, as she notes that she

harboured ‘desperate thoughts about B. [Beckmann]’. 106

When, in June 1945, she finally learned that the Beckmanns

were well, she noted triumphantly ‘Beckmann is alive!’ 107

and proceeded to send him parcels of painting equipment.

108 She visited him in Amsterdam as soon as it was

possible. As a token of his gratitude Beckmann included

Motesiczky in one of his works. The reclining figure in

Apollo, 1942, is reputedly modelled on her, and after

Quappi’s death she inherited the painting (fig. 25).

Marie-Louise’s brother Karl declined to join his mother

and sister in exile. He had led a rather eventful life, if not

always a happy one. His sister, to whom he was very close,

remembered him as gifted and searching, wanting to

understand everything. 109 His eager restlessness is exemplified

by his frequent change in studies. After his Matura

Karl, who, like his father, was an excellent cellist, began

reading law at the University of Vienna. From November

1925 he studied medicine at the University of Heidelberg,

continuing in Vienna in the autumn of 1926. The following

May he returned to Heidelberg, first enrolling as a student

of medicine, then reverting to law and, from December

1927, settling on theology. In autumn 1929 he moved to

Marburg and, in April 1931, to Berlin to pursue his theological

studies further. In the German capital he came into contact

with the Viennese psychoanalyst and communist Wilhelm

Reich (1897–1957), who treated him from September 1932

for his lack of self-esteem and sexual shyness. Apart from

being Reich’s patient, he also became his financier, student

and collaborator in the sexual-politics movement. After

the National Socialist seizure of power Reich and Karl von

Motesiczky first fled to Vienna and, in April 1933, went into

Fig. 24 Max Beckmann, Strandszene, 1938, graphite on paper,

laid down on card, 185 × 228 mm, signed bottom right: ‘Meinem lieben

Pizchen Motesiczky zum 24. Okt. 38 Amsterdam von Beckmann’

(Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London)


exile in Denmark. From there, Karl followed Reich to

Oslo in October 1934. It was here that he met his girlfriend

Aagot, a Norwegian, with whom he probably lived from

the end of 1936 until his return to Vienna. After years of

feeling rejected by the opposite sex Karl had now finally

found brief happiness. He wrote poems and articles on

sexual-political matters, some under the pseudonym

‘Teschitz’, and in 1935 published a book, Religionsstreit in

Deutschland, in which he analysed the struggle of the

Christian Church in Germany against National Socialist

attacks on its autonomy. Finding it difficult to cope with

Reich’s increasingly exotic ideas, Karl finally broke with

him in summer 1937 and returned to Vienna to study

medicine. His sister was relieved to have him home since

she felt that Reich had brutally exploited her brother. 110

After the Anschluß, Karl von Motesiczky decided to stay

on in Austria in order to save the Hinterbrühl estate

from falling into the hands of the Nazis and as an act

of resistance.

Once his mother and sister had left for Amsterdam,

Karl von Motesiczky packed up Marie-Louise’s paintings

from the 1920s and 1930s, an estimated forty works. 111 With

the help of Otto Kallir he found a courier and despatched

the large crate to the Netherlands. During the war the

paintings were stored in a wool factory in The Hague

belonging to relatives. Karl’s work ensured that, apart from

a few works of art that could not be located after the war

(and two Beckmann drawings that had also been hidden), 112

the majority of Motesiczky’s early oeuvre survived. The

successful transfer of the works of art, however, proved to be

only a brief respite from the concerns of exile. The months

in Holland were an anxious time for the Motesiczky women,

full of discussions about the future and their eventual

destination. They were considering going to Paris, and

Marie-Louise visited the French capital to investigate the

possibility of settling there. Other options were England

or Switzerland. Karl urged them in vain to come back to

Vienna for a holiday.

Worries about the future were interrupted by a welcome

distraction when Motesiczky had a chance to show thirtytwo

of her paintings in her first solo exhibition, arranged

by Rein Bakker, by now a family friend. The exhibition,

‘Tentoonstelling van werken door Marie Louise

Motesiczky’ at Esher Surrey Art Galleries in The Hague,

opened its doors to the public on 7 January 1939. It stayed

open for three weeks and, to Motesiczky’s great surprise,

attracted much attention and was favourably received by

the press. One critic called her ‘a fresh and fascinating talent’

Fig. 25 Max Beckmann, Apollo,

1942, oil on canvas, 695 × 895 mm

(Marie-Louise von Motesiczky

Charitable Trust, currently on loan

to the Scottish National Gallery of

Modern Art, Edinburgh)

34 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

and praised the paintings as ‘intelligent and amusing’. 113

Several others remarked on the sad fact that, due to the

Anschluß, the artist was prevented from showing this exhibition

in her native country. 114 A photograph of the private

view that survives in the artist’s estate (fig. 26) shows a large

group of guests gathered around Motesiczky, who seems

slightly overwhelmed by all the attention. Her nervousness

was somewhat allayed when her dog, Poli, relieved

herself in the exhibition, which Motesiczky took as a

sign of good luck. 115 Karl, immensely proud of his sister’s

achievement, had wanted to attend the opening but could

not make it. In 1985 she recounted that, for the grand

occasion, she wore an unusual, modern hat:

The next day, I heard that there was something

about me in the newspaper. My first thought was:

probably about the hat which I was wearing. The

fact that the pictures might be reviewed and even

sold did not enter my head. The exhibition was a

great success in the press, and I did not notice that

nothing was sold. 116

Shortly after the opening of the exhibition, Motesiczky

and her mother must have decided to emigrate to England.

For the journey they were joined by the indefatigable Marie.

They travelled via Switzerland and stayed for a month with

their friend the psychoanalyst Trudi Boller-Schwing in

Fig. 26 Group photograph

at the opening of the

exhibition ‘Tentoonstelling

van werken door Marie

Louise Motesiczky’ at

Esher Surrey Art Galleries,

The Hague, 7 January 1939

(Motesiczky archive)


Zürich, arriving in London in February. One painting of

1940, The Travellers (no. 50), refers directly to the experience

of exile by recording her recent crossing of the Channel. In

a wooden barge that drifts helplessly on a stormy sea, four

vulnerable passengers huddle together. Their flight must

have been sudden since they were clearly not able to dress

properly or bring many belongings, apart from a mirror

and a large sausage. As the painting originates from the

artist’s own experience of exile, the passengers have been

interpreted as members of the Motesiczky household:

her wet-nurse, her mother, her brother or uncle and

the artist herself. Yet the generalized title succeeds in

depersonalizing the four evacuees and allows Motesiczky

to express the universal emotions excited by a sudden

and enforced journey into exile.

first years in england

Once in England, Motesiczky, her mother and Marie

first lived in a hotel in Sloane Square and then in a flat at

Marble Arch. Probably from July 1939 they rented rooms in

a house at 76 Adelaide Road in Hampstead, north London,

belonging to Marie Seidler, an opera singer who had

emigrated to England from Vienna. Karl managed to pack

up a substantial proportion of the contents of the Viennese

house, including many pieces of furniture, plates, cutlery,

linen and artworks, which he sent on to London in three

large containers. The Austrian authorities prohibited the

transfer of only one painting, a German old master painting

of St Christopher and the Devil which they wanted

to acquire for a museum. 117 When in 1940 the German air

raids started to devastate the capital the Motesiczkys moved

to Amersham in Buckinghamshire, north-west of London.

Only a short train journey away, Amersham lies in the

beautiful countryside of the Chiltern hills. Elias Canetti

described the place as ‘a sort of idyll’, 118 albeit in a state

of war, where many emigrants from continental Europe

as well as evacuees from London lived at that time.

Motesiczky later conceded that, despite the war, ‘although

it sounds crazy, this, to some extent, was really a very nice

time’. 119 She moved in circles of fellow refugees intent

on upholding cultural and intellectual standards even

during the state of emergency of the war.

Around this time Motesiczky started a relationship

that was to last for the rest of her life. In 1939, while living

in London, she had met the writer Elias Canetti who, with

his wife Veza, had emigrated to England in January that

year. 120 Born in Rustschuk (Rousse), Bulgaria, in 1905,

Canetti had just achieved critical acclaim in Vienna with

his first novel, Die Blendung, when he was forced to leave

Austria. Although they had mutual acquaintances, such

as Motesiczky’s relative Fritz Schey, 121 their paths had

never actually crossed in Vienna. Yet Canetti must have

been aware of Motesiczky’s place in Viennese society.

Motesiczky and Canetti possessed a mutual friend in Anna

Mahler (1904–88), the Viennese sculptor and daughter of

Gustav and Alma Mahler. Canetti stayed in Anna’s studio

at 31 Hyde Park Gardens before he moved to Hampstead

and thus became a neighbour of Motesiczky while she was

living in Adelaide Road. During this time Anna Mahler

created a portrait bust of Motesiczky which, unfortunately,

was irreparably damaged and no longer exists.

Details of the early months of the friendship between

the painter and the writer are not known, and it seems

that an intimate relationship started only when, on the

recommendation of Motesiczky, the Canettis also moved

to Amersham in autumn 1941. They found lodgings with

Gordon Milburn, a retired Anglican priest, and his wife

who lived in a house called ‘Durris’ in Stubbs Wood,

where Motesiczky had stayed some months earlier. Father

Milburn was to inspire the work of both the Canettis as

well as of Motesiczky. In Party in the Blitz, the fourth part

of his autobiography covering his years in England, Elias

Canetti devoted a whole chapter to the idiosyncrasies of

Fig. 27 ‘Cornerways’, the Motesiczkys’ home in Amersham, view from

the garden, photograph, early 1940s (Motesiczky archive)

36 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

his landlord. 122 Veza Canetti bitingly caricatured the couple

in her short story Toogoods oder das Licht, characterizing

them as mean and riddled with double standards. 123 While

the Canettis present an ambivalent if not downright

negative picture of Gordon Milburn, Motesiczky is more

lenient. Her portrait Father Milburn, painted in 1958 (no.

154), shows the by then aged priest as a quiet authority

whose earnest seriousness is palpable.

In 1941 the Motesiczkys acquired a three-bedroom

house at 86 Chestnut Lane, Amersham, using money from

the Dutch bank account. 124 ‘Cornerways’ (fig. 27), not far

from Stubbs Wood and reached by a shortcut, possessed

a large garden in which the family kept chickens and grew

vegetables. Since Canetti’s room at the Milburns’ was not

big enough for all their possessions, Motesiczky offered to

give a home to his substantial library of almost two thousand

books. Several photographs, taken in the early 1940s in

the large living room-cum-studio in ‘Cornerways’, show

Motesiczky and her mother, the Canettis and Marie posing

in front of Canetti’s books, which filled a whole wall, and

Motesiczky’s paintings (fig. 28). Probably for her birthday in

1942, Canetti gave Motesiczky the manuscript of a collection

of aphorisms. Held together by a yellow cord, these pages

contain distillations of his recent thoughts on the war,

God, his contemporaries, books, love and death. 125

The blossoming relationship between Motesiczky and

Canetti was to be artistically productive for both sides,

moving between extreme closeness and dramatic discord.

The ambivalent character of the relationship is evident in

the following remarks: while Motesiczky called Canetti her

‘personal catastrophe’, 126 at the same time she counted him

among her ‘Hauptgötter’ (main gods), the three people who

had the strongest influence on and were most important

in her life, besides her mother and Max Beckmann. 127 She

saw herself faced with the problem: ‘completely without

C. world makes no sense – with C endless torment.’ 128 All

through her life Motesiczky suffered from the fact that,

despite their intimate friendship, she was never allowed to

play a prominent role in Canetti’s life. His habit of isolating

her socially, his reluctance to introduce her to his friends

or go out together often caused bitter arguments and made

Motesiczky doubt his feelings. In public as well as in some

of the correspondence 129 they used the impersonal ‘Sie’.

Privately, however, they invented nicknames. While

Motesiczky called Canetti ‘Pio’ (thus honouring him as

the author of the book depicted in Orchid, 1958, no. 153),

Canetti used either ‘Muli’, if he talked to her as a woman

or his girlfriend, or ‘Mulo’ if he addressed Motesiczky the

Fig. 28 Elias Canetti and Marie-Louise von Motesiczky

in her studio at ‘Cornerways’, Amersham, photograph, early 1940s

(Motesiczky archive)


painter. From the start, the relationship was complicated

by the fact that Canetti was married. As the photographs

show, Motesiczky was at first on good terms with Veza

Canetti. In fact Veza must have been fond of Motesiczky,

as is clear from her dedication of a text so far unpublished:

‘My novel “The Response” is dedicated to the painter

Marie-Luise Motesizky. The soft magic that emanates from

her has given me an idea for a figure and her refinement

has tamed my wildness and determined the figures and

the music of my book.’ 130 Yet the initial goodwill soon

turned into mutual dislike. In an undated drawing Motesiczky

portrays Veza Canetti as a queen whose hardened expression

does not bode well for her subjects (fig. 29).

Unlike the ups and downs of the relationship, the

mutual professional support turned out to be unwavering.

Despite their different metiers, each was unreservedly

convinced of the other’s talent. They gave one another the

help that was needed to enable or facilitate the creation of

a work. During the first years of exile, when Canetti, who

refused to write articles for money, 131 was unable to earn

a living, Motesiczky’s financial support was crucial to his

survival. Her assistance lasted for several decades, even

though the amounts of money were often relatively small

and did not allow Canetti to work free of financial worries

for long. Her intellectual contribution to Canetti’s work,

although at first glance not immediately obvious, must also

not be underestimated. They talked about work in progress

or just completed; they discussed the public reception of

their work, celebrated their successes or comforted each

other if the reaction had been less favourable. Sometimes

Fig. 29 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, Veza Canetti, undated,

black chalk on paper, 440 × 570 mm (Marie-Louise von Motesiczky

Charitable Trust, London)

Motesiczky was directly involved in the creative progress:

some of her dreams, which she told Canetti, found their

way into his writing. His growing literary success, which

followed the publication of Masse und Macht in 1960, was a

source of happiness and pride to Motesiczky and confirmed

her belief in his gift. Canetti, in turn, acknowledged that

she had contributed much to his work, with which she

‘will be linked as long as human beings are around’. 132

Similarly, Canetti’s influence on Motesiczky’s work

cannot be overestimated, although, according to

Motesiczky, he did not really know a great deal about

painting. 133 Crucially, Canetti believed wholeheartedly in

Motesiczky’s paintings and frequently expressed his admiration:

‘You are a very great painter and, whether you want it

or not, the world will come to know it. Every picture that

you will paint will enter the history of painting.’ 134 Apart

from her mother, Canetti was Motesiczky’s most important

interlocutor and critic, although she was aware that he

often praised her work too much. He also encouraged

friends and acquaintances to visit her exhibitions and

used his growing fame to draw attention to her work. His

letters are full of encouragement and admonishing advice

to create new pictures. Motesiczky later admitted that

she hardly ever painted a picture without eagerly looking

forward to the moment when she could show it to

Canetti. 135 He received several paintings as presents, for

example the enigmatic early Self-portrait with Red Hat, 1938

(no. 47), the pensive and more mature Self-portrait with

Pears, 1965 (no. 202), and the touching Mother with a Straw,

1962 (no. 186). Apart from arranging several commissions

for Motesiczky he commissioned paintings from her

himself – not all of which were carried out.

As well as Veza and Elias Canetti, Motesiczky frequently

saw a number of other friends in Amersham in the 1940s.

Among them were Olda and Oskar Kokoschka (fig. 30), who

had arrived in England in October 1938. After a brief stay in

Polperro, Cornwall, they returned to London. Kokoschka,

who had already enjoyed a successful career before being

forced into exile, has been repeatedly identified as a

major shaping force on Motesiczky’s later works. Unlike

Beckmann, who actually taught Motesiczky and whose

direct influence on her early works cannot be overlooked,

Kokoschka never formally instructed her. She was certainly

familiar with his work and even possessed several examples

of it. In 1940 he painted a portrait of her wearing a straw

hat. Keeping the original (fig. 31), he presented a signed

copy of the portrait to the sitter’s mother (fig. 83).

Motesiczky’s estate also includes a framed watercolour

38 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

Fig. 30 Olda and Oskar Kokoschka in Venice, photograph, 1948

(Motesiczky archive)

Fig. 31 Oskar Kokoschka, Marie-Louise, 1940, watercolour on paper,

465 × 375 mm (Fondation Oskar Kokoschka, Vevey)


still-life of a vase of flowers by Kokoschka. He personalized

the drawing by adding the small figure of an Italian greyhound

– a breed that the Motesiczkys kept for many years

(fig. 32). During the war he also entrusted Motesiczky with

the three fans he had once painted for his former lover,

Alma Mahler (who was the cousin of Henriette von

Motesiczky’s sister-in-law). 136

Kokoschka was generally allowed to see Motesiczky’s

latest work or, a very rare privilege, even work in progress,

and he made no secret of his views on her paintings. It is

likely that she took at least some of his comments to heart,

although it is difficult to establish their real impact. Later

in life she counted Kokoschka among the four people who

had meant most to her, alongside her mother, Beckmann

and Canetti. 137 She recalled that, upon meeting Kokoschka

again in London before the war, she had not been aware

of how lucky she was to know him and to be ‘adopted’ by

him. 138 However, while she loved Kokoschka’s dazzling,

fascinating personality and valued his sense of humour, 139

she considered his influence on her painting to be limited,

conceding only that he had loosened up her style. It would

have been unwise to follow him further since she considered

his pupils to be pale imitations of their teacher,

something to which she definitely did not aspire. 140 More

importantly his criticism, always frank yet sometimes

harsh, hurt Motesiczky deeply, as her diary entry on

8 May 1945 shows: ‘It is peace . . . Kokoschkas appear. O.K.

is awful with my painting of mother.’ 141 A few weeks later

Kokoschka called another painting, Dorothy (no. 74), ‘hopeless’.

142 When it was forthcoming, however, his praise for

her work was eagerly taken up. Motesiczky remembered

one instance when he came into her studio, saw a painting

Fig. 32 Oskar Kokoschka, Flowers with

Porcelain Dog, 1950s, watercolour on paper,

580 × 480 mm (private collection, Austria)

40 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

on which she still intended to do work and exclaimed:

‘Don’t touch it!’ Motesiczky followed his advice, conceding

that she probably would have ruined the picture had she

continued to paint. 143

During a period when she was furious about

Kokoschka’s rejection of one of her paintings she made

a ‘drawing Olda, K, I’ 144 which is probably identical to

Kokoschka Fishing for Two Nudes (fig. 33). It shows Kokoschka

standing among the reeds trying to catch the two nudes in

the water with a fishing rod. The nudes are his wife Olda,

standing, and Motesiczky, swimming vigorously in the

water as if trying to get away. The humorous composition

probably refers to another dimension of their relationship:

in the early 1940s Kokoschka appears to have had his eye

on Motesiczky. Not succeeding, he tried to arrange a

match for her. 145 His intended partner for her was Michael

Croft, later Lord Croft, who had been his first English

patron. Croft was only twenty-two when Kokoschka

painted his portrait in 1938/9 (private collection, fig. 178).

Croft apparently proposed to Motesiczky, who refused

to marry him. 146 The reason for her lack of interest is not

documented, but is likely to have been the blossoming

relationship with Elias Canetti.

In 1951 Motesiczky painted a triple portrait that paid

tribute to another aspect of her acquaintance with the

Kokoschkas, her friendship with Olda. Two Women and

a Shadow (no. 109) shows Olda and Marie-Louise trying

to have a private conversation while Oskar Kokoschka,

represented by a silhouetted dark profile, prevents any

confidences from being exchanged by appearing to listen

in. Paintings such as Two Women and a Shadow may have

inspired the author Iris Murdoch in her description of the

Fig. 33 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

Kokoschka Fishing for Two Nudes, 1945,

charcoal and pastel on paper, 510 × 380 mm

(Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable

Trust, London)


remodelled interior of a formerly musty and old-fashioned

house in the novel The Book and the Brotherhood, first

published in 1987: ‘The drawing room . . . was now painted

a glowing aquamarine adorned with a huge scarlet abstract

by de Kooning over the fireplace and two colourful

conversation pieces by Kokoschka and Motesiczky.’ 147

Despite her continuing acquaintance with fellow

émigré artists such as Kokoschka, Motesiczky had, as an

exile, discarded the professional networks that might have

helped her art reach a wider audience. Nevertheless, she

managed to have her work shown regularly in her adopted

country. Although not interested in politics, during the

war she participated in several exhibitions in London

which had a political dimension and more or less openly

took a stance against the National Socialist regime and

its consequences. In July 1941 she showed a self-portrait

at the ‘Exhibition of Contemporary Continental Art.

Paintings, Water-Colours, Sculptures’ at the Leger Gallery

that comprised works by Martin Bloch, Georges Braque,

Giorgio de Chirico, Hugo Dachinger, Raoul Dufy, Georg

Ehrlich, Max Ernst, Oskar Kokoschka, Anna Mahler, André

Lhote, Pablo Picasso and Fred Uhlmann. The following

year a portrait was included in the ‘Exhibition of Works

by Allied Artists’ at the R.B.A. Galleries. In April 1944 she

participated in ‘AIA 1944. Artists’ International Association

Members’ Exhibition’ at the R.B.A. Galleries. The previous

year she had become a member of the Artists’ International

Association. Founded in 1933, the Association demonstrated

against all forms of Fascism and strove to forge a link

between artist and public by organizing conferences and

lectures and staging exhibitions. In order to reach as large

an audience as possible, some shows were arranged in

underground stations or factory canteens while others

travelled around the country.

Towards the end of 1944 the Czechoslovak Institute in

London staged an ‘Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture by

Marie Louise Motesicky and Mary Duras’. This two-woman

exhibition brought together the paintings of Motesiczky

and the sculptures of Mary Duras. Born in Vienna in 1898,

Duras had emigrated to England, now also lived in

Amersham and was a friend of both Canetti and Motesiczky.

Motesiczky showed twenty-eight paintings, portraits, selfportraits,

still-lifes, figure compositions and landscapes.

Among Duras’ works was a portrait head of Motesiczky

(fig. 34). The exhibition catalogue contained a foreword

by Jan Masaryk, Foreign Minister of the London-based

Czechoslovak government in exile, which repeated some

ideas that Elias Canetti had already voiced in a review of

Motesiczky’s work. The short text provides a fascinating

insight into Canetti’s views of Motesiczky’s paintings:

We meet an artist of the same rank [as Mary Duras]

but of a different kind in the painter Marie Louise

Motešicky. Her art is dominated by one passion,

usually and very wrongly, styled masculine: the search

for truth. Her portraits have an intensity and vitality

that have become rare to-day. Each human being in

her eyes is unique and original, and yet something

very round and full. She does not despise, she does

not praise, she makes her task as difficult as possible.

With some of these portraits one feels reminded

of the great Dutch painters, and nobody need be

ashamed for this. The spirit of this art is European; its

culture is that of the modern French school. A palette

of so much taste can have accomplished itself only

in France. But there is a third element, that directly

moves one’s heart and that appears most convincing

in her still-lives: a distinctness and force deriving

Fig. 34 Mary Duras,

Marie Louise, undated,

painted plaster,

height 320 mm

(private collection)

42 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

from another, less sophisticated world. It takes time

to find out what it really is, for it has been completely

transformed into modern ways of expression.

However, it is undoubtedly the world of Slavic folkart.

There is a sense for bright and comic things as

those have, who know the life of peasants. It is the

essentially joyful of her art. Truth, that succeeds in

portraying man with such intensity, is not only of

the soul: it is the truth of the colours that love one

another. 148

The exhibition was favourably reviewed. The art critic

Eric Newton, a fellow resident of Amersham and a painter

himself, expressed his admiration for Motesiczky’s work

in an article which appeared in the Sunday Times. 149 He

subsequently purchased Still-life with Pansies, 1942 (no. 56),

intending it as a present for his mother, and continued to

sing Motesiczky’s praises when he reviewed her exhibition

at the Beaux Arts Gallery in 1960. The critic Edith Yapou

counted the show at the Czechoslovak Institute among the

‘outstanding events in the yearly array of London exhibitions’.

150 While Motesiczky’s works were still on display,

Kokoschka approached John Rothenstein, then director of

the Tate Gallery, enquiring if a painting from the exhibition

might be accepted by the Tate. This attempt to further

Motesiczky’s cause was probably undertaken without her

knowledge. Kokoschka made use of his acquaintance

with Rothenstein, who had already expressed his wish to

incorporate works by Kokoschka in the Tate’s collection.

Rothenstein initially welcomed the idea of acquiring a

Motesiczky painting and, having visited the exhibition,

made a selection of five possible works. 151 The offer was

eventually declined by the Tate’s Trustees and it would be

another forty-two years before the first three paintings by

Motesiczky entered the Tate collection, in 1986.

In the course of the war, communication with

Motesiczky’s brother had become increasingly difficult.

After his mother and sister had left Austria Karl von

Motesiczky looked after the family properties, especially the

estate in Hinterbrühl. When the villa, which had been built

on a spring, causing subsidence, had to be pulled down in

1939, the family had already become accustomed to living

in the smaller ‘Schweizerhaus’. Karl now spent most of his

time there, planting an orchard in the grounds. At weekends

his anti-fascist and Jewish friends would meet in the relative

safety of Hinterbrühl. Some found shelter there for several

months. In the autumn of 1939 he founded a resistance

group with friends. Three years later, in summer 1942,

they helped two Jewish couples from Poland escape to

Switzerland. The group, however, was denounced. Karl

von Motesiczky and his co-conspirator Ella Lingens were

arrested by the Gestapo on 13 October 1942 and sent to

Auschwitz four months later. Karl kept his spirits up for a

while by asking for his cello to be sent to him, but he fell ill

shortly afterwards and died on 25 June 1943 in the prisoners’

infirmary. In 1980 he was awarded the Israeli title of

‘Righteous Among the Nations’, which honours people who

risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazis. Ella Lingens,

who made herself useful as a doctor, survived the Holocaust.

Although Motesiczky learned of Karl’s death via a letter

from Irene Carlin, a Swiss relative, in October 1943, she

later claimed he had died just a few weeks before the end

of the war which would have made his loss even more

futile since it could almost have been avoided. Marie-

Louise had always been Karl’s confidante and ally since he

had not been close to his mother and often felt misunderstood

by her. For the rest of her life she felt guilty for not

having been able to save him. 152 In After the Ball, 1949 (no.

87), she pays a touching tribute to her brother. She depicts

him with his Norwegian girlfriend Aagot after a fancy

dress ball in Vienna. Although both are exhausted from

the evening’s entertainment they tenderly and protectively

hold each other in a moment of brief happiness.

At the end of the war Motesiczky decided to go back

to London. She first stayed at 139 Maida Vale. At around

the same time as Canetti moved from ‘Durris’ to 187 Maida

Vale in 1948, she moved into a flat on the second floor at

14 Compayne Gardens in West Hampstead, which she

shared with her friends Georgette Lewinson and Julia

Altschulova. From 1951 to early 1957 Elias Canetti also had

a room in the flat, where he often worked. He was in the

habit of writing through the night and catching up on his

sleep in the morning, and Motesiczky had to be careful to

avoid any noise in order not to disturb his rest. Although

initially she was very happy to share her day-to-day life

with Canetti after she had waited so long, in the end

living together proved to be too difficult. She suffered

from Canetti’s moods and felt socially isolated, ‘in solitary

confinement as it were’. 153 To the apparent relief of both,

Canetti vacated his room, agreeing on a trial period of

living apart.

At about the same time Motesiczky’s artistic career

took a turn for the better. The early 1950s finally brought

more opportunities to show her work. Following the good

reception of her 1939 Dutch exhibition, Motesiczky had two

solo exhibitions in the Netherlands in 1952. In February


Kunstzaal Van Lier in Amsterdam showed a selection of

twenty-five paintings that went on to Kunstzaal Plaats, The

Hague, in March. Both exhibitions were a great success,

with artists, critics and the public united in their praise for

‘a fascinating painter’ 154 and her work of ‘rare quality’. 155

Her expressionism was termed ‘gay, honest, problemless’ 156

or ‘lyrical and soft’. 157 Several reviewers singled out her

portraits, which would not easily find their equals in our

time. 158 One critic, quoting a young Dutch painter, simply

exclaimed: ‘That such good painting still exists in our

days makes one feel much happier.’ 159 By chance, a Max

Beckmann exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum had just

finished, which led critics to compare Motesiczky’s work

with that of her teacher, concluding, however, that

Motesiczky had arrived at her own personal style that was

a softer version of added warmth and humanity. 160 The

final seal of Dutch approval was the purchase of Finchley

Road at Night, 1952 (no. 110), by the Stedelijk Museum

of Modern Art, Amsterdam.

At the time of her two solo exhibitions in the

Netherlands Motesiczky had also talked about her struggle

to gain recognition in her adopted country: ‘I myself have

exhibited a few times in London, but in spite of positive

reviews, e.g. by Eric Newton, I have not had much success.

It is a very difficult scene for foreigners.’ 161 Unfortunately

this statement proved to be true over the following few

years. In September 1953 she learned that the famous

Cork Street gallery Roland, Browse and Delbanco, which

dominated sales of contemporary British art to museums

throughout the country during the 1950s and 1960s, was

planning an unusual show for the following month. The

gallery had occasionally shown individual works by

Motesiczky within the previous few years. The exhibition,

entitled ‘The Renaissance of the Fish. Paintings from the

17th to the 20th Century’, was to celebrate an unconventional

and not easily marketable subject matter: fish

still-lifes. Having completed Lobster (no. 119) a few months

earlier, Motesiczky thought of submitting it. She was,

however, doubtful whether a lobster would be considered a

fish and decided to quickly paint a still-life of undisputable

fish, Still-life with Fishes (no. 122). Although both paintings

were initially accepted for the exhibition, only Lobster was

finally listed in the exhibition catalogue.

Motesiczky had more success the following year, when,

thanks to the mediation of her relative Gretl Rupé, the

Städtische Galerie in Munich put on an exhibition of

works by the Bavarian painter Erna Dinklage (1895–1991)

and Motesiczky. The opening was packed with old and

new admirers of her work, among them Ludwig Baldass,

by then director of the Gemäldegalerie at the Kunsthistorisches

Museum in Vienna; Eberhard Hanfstaengl,

director general of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen;

Günther Freiherr von Pechmann, director

of the Porzellanmanufaktur in Berlin and of the Neue

Sammlung in Munich, who was enthusiastic about the

paintings; and the Russian writer Fedor Stepun, who had

been a friend of her brother Karl and praised her paintings

as ‘essential’. 162 The thirty-four paintings shown by

Motesiczky, most of them new, received praise for their

stylistic unity. 163 In 1955 the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande

und Westfalen in Düsseldorf put on an exhibition of

Motesiczky’s paintings. It coincided with a memorial exhibition

for the Düsseldorf painter Heinz May (1878–1954)

and exhibitions of sculptures and drawings by Curt

Beckmann (1901–70) and Hans van Breek (1906–93), the

brother of Arno Breker.

Despite her success abroad and the difficulties in

gaining artistic recognition in London, in the mid-1950s

Motesiczky decided to stay in the country that had offered

her refuge. After nearly twenty years of living in England

and having been naturalized as a British citizen in 1948, 164

she finally severed her links with Austria in summer 1956.

She sold the family estate in Hinterbrühl to Hermann

Gmeiner, the founder of the SOS-Kinderdorf movement,

who proceeded to build another of his villages for

orphaned and homeless children on the site (fig. 35).

Motesiczky was willing to part with her property for a price

that did not reflect its true market value in order to give

the children a permanent new home and a stable environment,

and to honour her brother ‘who loved children and

justice’. 165 Once the Hinterbrühl complex was fully established

Gmeiner wrote to Motesiczky acknowledging her

contribution in enabling the creation of the ‘largest and

most beautiful European SOS-Kinderdorf’, whose model

character for villages all over the world was invaluable. 166

In 1961 Henriette and Marie-Louise von Motesiczky

erected a monument to Karl in the grounds of the

Kinderdorf (fig. 36). Its inscription reads: ‘Für die selbstlose

Hilfe, die er schuldlos Verfolgten gewährte, erlitt er den

Tod’ (He perished for the selfless help he granted to the

innocently persecuted). 167 Motesiczky had always dreamed

of keeping a studio in Hinterbrühl, and later often regretted

not having done so and painting the children. 168 She also

continued to wonder about the pictures she could create

in her home city: ‘Vienna is so stimulating for me from an

artistic point of view, I have so many ideas – this has to do

44 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

Fig. 35 SOS-Kinderdorf in Hinterbrühl, photograph, 1960s

(Motesiczky archive)

Fig. 36 Karl von Motesiczky’s memorial stone at the SOS-Kinderdorf

in Hinterbrühl, photograph, 1960s (Motesiczky archive)

with the memories of my youth . . . and nevertheless I think

that I could one day paint my best pictures here’. 169 After the

war, she maintained the habit of visiting Vienna regularly,

usually twice a year, in spring and in autumn.


Since Marie’s death in 1954 the domestic arrangements

for Henriette von Motesiczky, living in Amersham with

hired help, had been somewhat unsatisfactory. In 1958,

Motesiczky, travelling to Austria, finally found a carer and

housekeeper who would bring stability to her mother’s life

as well as the culinary delights of her homeland. Maria

Pauzenberger (1912–98) joined the household at the end of

April and was soon known simply as ‘Bauzen’. She became

famous for her Viennese specialities, of which in particular

her Apfelstrudel was a much-loved delicacy. Bauzen looked

after Henriette von Motesiczky for the rest of her life.

After Henriette’s death in 1978 she married and moved

away, occasionally visiting Marie-Louise, who painted

her portrait in 1990 (no. 309).

In the late 1950s, with her mother getting steadily

older and frailer, Motesiczky had to find a new solution

to their way of living. After a long house hunt, she found

a property in Chesterford Gardens in Hampstead in 1959.

She had to spend almost a year, in which she did not get

much painting done, making extensive alterations to the

house. In spring 1960, she moved into her new home

with her mother. The house, a substantial semi-detached,

three-storey Edwardian red-brick building on one of

Hampstead’s quiet roads not far from the village centre,

provided more than ample living space. Soon two small

rooms on the top floor were rented out to the Berlin-born

Edith Loewenberg, a friend of Erika Mann. The communal

living area for the Motesiczkys was on the ground floor,

while Motesiczky’s bedroom on the first floor looked out

over a large garden with mature trees and beautiful flowerbeds.

The large adjacent studio (fig. 37), facing the road,

provided wonderful northern light and plenty of space to

set up arrangements for a still-life or comfortably instal a

sitter. Elias Canetti moved into a large room on the second

floor that overlooked the garden and housed part of his

library (fig. 38). He loved the house and the garden, which

he called ‘a little paradise’, 170 and especially valued ‘the

fantastic Biedermeier peace’ 171 of life there which enabled

him to hide from the world and work undisturbed.

In a scaled-down version of her childhood custom,

Motesiczky again enjoyed the use of two homes: the large

family house in Chesterford Gardens and the house in

Amersham which was kept on and where they, especially

Henriette, often spent the summer months. In the mid-

1970s Motesiczky finally sold the Amersham property,

having rented it out for several years. To visitors, the house

in Chesterford Gardens, with its old Viennese furniture, its

collection of art and artefacts, its Viennese cooking and,

above all, its Austrian inhabitants with their native dialect

who maintained a traditional way of life, seemed like a

relic from a lost world, an Austrian island in an English sea.

Beatrice Owen, a friend whose portrait Motesiczky painted

in 1973 (no. 244), found in the house ‘the atmosphere of


central Europe, the elegance and style that was totally

natural, the values with which I had grown up . . . it was

a magical household then, always full of the most gifted

people of their time, who could forget their fame in

M-L’s company and inspire each other’. 172

Over the years Hampstead had provided a home for

many refugees from Europe, so Motesiczky became part

of a lively intellectual and artistic community. A very

close friend was the fellow artist Milein Cosman, born in

Düsseldorf in 1921. Her husband, the musicologist Hans

Keller (1919–85), often provided a sounding-board for

arguments on the nature of art. The couple are depicted

in Studio with Nude Model, 1970 (no. 239), practising their

respective professions. The modern architect Godfrey

Samuel (1904–82), who shared Motesiczky’s interest in

music, art and travel, was the perfect companion for

numerous concerts, visits to museums and holidays.

She took enormous pleasure in her friendship with this

‘gentleman in the truest sense of the word’ 173 whose

portrait she painted in 1976/7 (no. 256). Motesiczky also

knew many of her fellow artists in exile, such as the

painters Jacob Bauernfreund (or Bornfriend) and Hilde

Goldschmidt and the sculptors Siegfried Charoux and

Georg Ehrlich. Yet, with the exception of Milein Cosman,

she only occasionally sought their company.

Outside her immediate Hampstead circle Motesiczky

kept up a number of longstanding friendships, for example

with the composers Samuel Barber (1910–81) and Gian Carlo

Menotti (1911–2007), the actor Ernst Ginsberg (1904–64) 174

and the Renaissance scholar Paul Oskar Kristeller

(1905–99), all of which had begun during her years in

Austria. The German philosopher Theodor W. Adorno

(1903–69) was also a friend. They presumably knew each

other through Motesiczky’s relative Gretel Karplus

(1902–93), who had met Adorno in 1923 and married

him in 1937. In 1935 Adorno wrote appreciatively to the

composer Ernst Krenek: ‘By the way do you know Marie-

Louise von Metesitzky? She is rather unusual and if

you have not met her, I would be happy to arrange it.’ 175

Motesiczky’s friendship with the Adornos endured. In

March 1961, for example, they met again in Paris. They

finally decided to dispense with the formal ‘Sie’ and

Fig. 37 Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky’s studio in

Chesterford Gardens,

photograph, 1995

(Motesiczky archive)

46 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

Fig. 38 Elias Canetti at his desk in

Chesterford Gardens, photograph, 1963

(Foto Archiv, Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich)

solemnly agreed to call each other ‘Du’. 176 Later that year

they holidayed together in the Swiss resort of Sils Maria.

Motesiczky enjoyed the reunion, writing home: ‘Adorno

always has something nice to say, for example that I have

a wonderful profile or that I have the nature of a young

girl without being backward. This, of course, contributes

to my relaxation!’ 177

For a few years in the early 1960s it finally seemed that

Motesiczky had overcome her reluctance to show and

sell her paintings. She found a dealer in Helen Lessore

(1907–94), who owned the well-known Beaux Arts Gallery

in Bruton Place in London and was an artist herself. Under

Helen Lessore’s directorship the Beaux Arts Gallery had

become famous for presenting young artists to a wider

audience, as well as showing work of the ‘older, under-rated

and half-forgotten, or the artist appreciated abroad, but not

yet in London’. 178 The first category probably included

Francis Bacon, one of the most important artists with whom

Helen Lessore was associated as dealer, albeit briefly. The

second category certainly included Motesiczky. Lessore

staged a solo exhibition for Motesiczky in 1960 and included

her work in several group shows. Among them was an

exhibition of the gallery’s regulars in 1963, which presented

Mother with a Straw, 1962 (no. 186), and one of the final

shows in 1964 before the gallery closed down, entitled ‘Last

Anthology’, where Motesiczky’s paintings hung alongside

those of Craigie Aitchison, Frank Auerbach, David Bomberg,

Heinz Koppel, Leon Kossoff, Walter Sickert and Euan Uglow.

Although she did not find the experience of dealing with a

commercial gallery especially daunting, Motesiczky was still

hesitant when it came to giving up pictures. When in 1965

the gallery was forced to close its doors for financial reasons

she was not overly disappointed, although she worried about

‘never again being able to join in the art scene’. 179

Personal concerns, however, soon took the upper hand.

When Veza Canetti died in 1963, Motesiczky hoped that she

would finally be able to become Elias Canetti’s wife. Yet, just

like her vain longing for Canetti’s child, Motesiczky’s wish

to marry was never realized, as he never proposed. The last

few years before Veza’s death had been characterized by

Motesiczky’s growing aversion to and jealousy of her rival,

whom she saw as the reason for most of her problems

with Canetti. Another source of discomfort was Canetti’s

unjustified and almost obsessive jealousy of Motesiczky’s

male acquaintances and his mission to control her activities.

Milein Cosman, for example, recounts the story of a

walk in Holland Park during which the women repeatedly

noticed a strange rustling behind the bushes. Motesiczky

was unconcerned, remarking: ‘That is probably Canetti!’ 180

Paradoxically, Motesiczky seems to have come to terms

with Canetti’s female friends. She knew, for example, of

Friedl Benedikt (1916–53), the young author who was

Canetti’s pupil and mistress. When Benedikt died in April

1953 Motesiczky received a call from Paris with the sad


news, which she related to Canetti when, shortly afterwards,

he phoned from Scotland. 181

The author Iris Murdoch (1919–99) also had a liaison

with Canetti in the early 1950s and it lasted several years. 182

Motesiczky and Murdoch presumably met during that time

and were linked by a bond of friendship and goodwill for

the rest of their lives. On leaving St Anne’s College, Oxford,

to dedicate herself to full-time writing in 1963, Murdoch

commissioned Motesiczky to paint her portrait as a parting

gift to the college. She chose Motesiczky as an artist she

personally admired and thought undervalued in this

country. With this commission she hoped to help increase

Motesiczky’s reputation and make her more familiar to

a wider audience: ‘I admire her work very much & think

she is not well enough known in England.’ 183 Iris Murdoch,

completed the following year (no. 193), shows the wellknown

author with an absent, dreamlike expression on her

face and a slightly windblown air about her. The reception

of the portrait was ambiguous: some viewers felt it did not

do justice to the sitter. However, when Murdoch saw the

finished portrait, which lacks idealization and does not dwell

on her feminine qualities, she found it uncannily accurate,

noting in her diary: ‘I think it is wonderful, terrible, so sad

and frightening, me with the demons. How did she know?’ 184

The first success in Motesiczky’s native country came

in May 1966 when the Wiener Secession staged a large

solo exhibition. Plans for a Viennese exhibition had been

discussed for some time. Three years earlier the Österreichische

Galerie in Schloß Belvedere had been about to

stage an exhibition of her work when government subsidies

were drastically cut and the project had to be put on

hold. 185 Now, Motesiczky had managed to interest another

extremely prestigious venue in her work. A catalogue was

produced that included illustrations, some in colour, of

most of the fifty-two works shown. Benno Reifenberg

contributed a thoughtful essay about her work with which

Motesiczky, usually wary of comments on her pictures,

was very pleased. 186 The exhibition, opened by Heimito

von Doderer, 187 attracted a substantial number of visitors.

The guest book contains enthusiastic comments like

‘Wonderful paintings as one sadly sees so rarely’, often

singling out the portraits which were considered ‘masterly’.

Other visitors praised the enchanting poetry and honesty

of ‘these strong and pure paintings in which the inexpressible

can always be imagined’. 188 Further publicity came

from Elias Canetti, who was awarded the Dichterpreis

der Stadt Wien on 16 May. He was more than happy to

use his increased fame to draw everyone’s attention to

Motesiczky’s exhibition, which included two portraits

of him (Conversation in the Library, 1950, no. 103, and Elias

Canetti, 1960, no. 165).

The exhibition was also well received by the critics,

who called it ‘a fascinating surprise’ 189 and mused that

Motesiczky, ‘had everything been as it should, should long

ago have been acknowledged as one of our most important

women artists’. 190 Another reviewer praised the artistic

consistency of Motesiczky, ‘who has hardly changed at all,

but become constantly refined’. 191 Several critics picked up

on her stylistic link with Beckmann. 192 While one journalist

considered Motesiczky to be standing ‘in the shadow of the

master’, 193 most, following Reifenberg’s analysis, concluded

that she ‘did not submit to the power and greatness of the

master, but has conquered her own view of the world – and

her own style’. 194 One critic even went so far as to praise their

relationship as exemplary: ‘This meeting with Beckmann . . .

influenced . . . the artist’s work and stance in such a fruitful

way . . . that one could not imagine more ideally in any

similarly close teacher-pupil-relationship.’ 195

Apart from critical acclaim, the exhibition also brought

about the acquisition of works by Motesiczky by several

public Austrian collections. The Österreichische Galerie

Belvedere bought a small portrait, Frau Ziegler, 1938

(no. 45), for 20,000 Schillings. Towards the end of her life

Motesiczky recollected that ‘the Belvedere bought the very

smallest painting for such a tiny sum that I straight away

lost it in a telephone box. The first money I had earned . . .

at sixty.’ 196 The Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz (now Lentos

Kunstmuseum, Linz) purchased Self-portrait with Pears, 1965

(no. 202), for 19,000 Schillings, the Kulturamt der Stadt

Wien acquired Elias Canetti (no. 165), passing it on to the

Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien (now the Wien

Museum). The exhibition subsequently travelled to the

Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz in December 1966 and, in

October 1967 was shown at the Galerie Günther Franke

in Munich. At the start of this leg of the tour Canetti

predicted: ‘You will become the great German portraitist’,

and praised the group of recent works as ‘the best . . . you

have created so far’. 197 At least with the exhibition in

Munich he would be proved right. The following lines

written by Henriette von Motesiczky to Käthe von Porada

neatly sum up the Munich success: ‘Piz had an exhibition

in Munich, wonderful reviews and also sales. She was very

pleased. She could have sold even more, but she finds it

hard or impossible to part with some paintings.’ 198 Long

after the end of the exhibition Günther Franke received a

request from a client wanting to commission a portrait from

48 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

Motesiczky. 199 From 27 October to 24 November 1968 the

exhibition, now consisting of seventy works, was shown

at the Kunsthalle in Bremen. Motesiczky was devastated

about one review that, once again, highlighted her stylistic

debt to Beckmann, and ignored her claims to original

work. 200 Quappi tried to console her by pointing out that

‘Max did not believe in you in vain, don’t forget that!’ 201

Several critics wrote appreciatively and, all in all, the

Bremen exhibition seems to have been a success.

The same catalogue was used for all four venues

although the paintings shown varied slightly, often incorporating

her most recent works. Motesiczky had been

rather nervous at the opening of the Viennese exhibition

but her anxiety diminished during the course of the tour.

Before the opening in Munich she announced to Benno

Reifenberg: ‘I am (maybe without reason) more confident

than in Vienna – maybe because I am working rather

well at the moment but maybe also because since Vienna

I have somewhat got used to the frightening state of

“exhibiting”.’ 202 Yet, a little while later, during the Bremen

exhibition, she confessed to Theo Garve to still feeling

‘even significantly smaller than usual’. 203

Her oeuvre during this period was dominated by a

singular series of works, her ‘mother paintings’. The 1960s

and 1970s witnessed an ever-closer bond between daughter

and ageing mother. Yet over the years the burden of looking

after Henriette von Motesiczky became increasingly

restricting and, at times, even imprisoning. Caring for her

weakening mother and making sure that she was able to

enjoy the two things she liked best – doing nothing and

eating well 204 – often prevented Motesiczky from painting.

On an emotional level, she felt obliged always to present

a brave and happy face in order to guarantee her mother’s

good health – a task that sometimes overwhelmed her. 205

In autumn 1977 she pleaded in her diary: ‘Mother unfortunately

often very difficult. Patience, patience, I must love

her as long as she is there. Strength, strength oh please

strength for the new year’. 206 One way of combining her

duty of caring for her mother and carrying on with her

work was to use Henriette as a model. Her mother became

one of her favourite subjects. Over the years Motesiczky

produced a series of beautiful and moving images, chronicling

her mother’s descent into extreme old age. Together

with her portraits and self-portraits these striking and truthful

paintings are among the best of her artistic oeuvre. The

Sunday Times art critic Marina Vaizey called the mother

paintings ‘surely one of the most moving series of portraits

to be produced in the post-war period’, 207 and the eminent

art historian Ernst Gombrich compared them with the work

of Albrecht Dürer, who had immortalized his mother in

works of similar detachment. 208 In a frank and unflattering

manner, which has been taken as a ‘violation of the divine

Fourth Commandment: “Thou Shalt Honor Thy Father

and Thy Mother!”’, 209 they capture the gradual, harrowing

decline towards death, combining the deep affection of

a daughter who shared almost all her life with her mother

with a penetrating power of observation. Motesiczky

adopts a distanced objectivity and inexorable clarity in her

mother pictures that are paired with the affirmation of

personal dignity and love for her subject matter. Referring

to From Night into Day, 1975 (no. 251), the art critic Robert

Clark asked the rhetorical question: ‘What other living

painter anywhere has produced so poignantly simple and

delicately alive an image of mortality?’ 210

Despite the large number of portrait paintings, not to

mention numerous sketches and drawings, Motesiczky

always felt there were even more expressions on her

mother’s face to be recorded. When Henriette von

Motesiczky died on 8 June 1978, aged ninety-six, she

had not quite finished with her task. 211 Just a few hours

before her death Motesiczky had repeatedly read one

of her mother’s own poems to her. Entitled ‘Ein Traum’

(‘A Dream’) and written in 1955, it is dedicated to Max

Beckmann, who so profoundly influenced her daughter’s

art. Motesiczky felt as if her mother’s ‘own words had

given her “a blessing”’ 212 on her journey towards death

by acknowledging her daughter’s chosen profession.

The death of her mother must have hit Motesiczky

hard. Having spent the greatest part of her life under the

same roof, she now missed her companion. With The

Greenhouse, painted in 1979 (no. 266), she created a memorial

to her late mother. Surrounded by her Italian greyhounds

she is seen raking leaves in the garden while the setting

sun is reflected in the window of the greenhouse. Still-life

with Asters, 1985 (no. 281), also pays tribute to Henriette von

Motesiczky. Depicting her mother’s now empty chair at the

dining table, Motesiczky expresses the loneliness of which

she had become acutely aware. As a final celebration she

produced forty memorial books containing photographs,

samples of her mother’s poems and drawings and images

of her own paintings. These were given to friends and

family members on the occasion of what would have

been Henriette’s hundredth birthday in 1982.

Despite her sadness over the loss of her mother,

Motesiczky eventually managed to relish the positive

consequences. According to relatives she seemed


rejuvenated after her mother’s death, travelling a great

deal and enjoying her new-found freedom. 213 In her diary

she likens her tentative explorations to ‘the first steps of

a newborn alone in the world’. 214 She also had substantial

work done on the house to adapt it to her new circumstances.

Keeping only her studio on the first floor she

moved downstairs to occupy the whole of the ground

floor; the rest of the house was turned into separate

accommodation for lodgers. The room Canetti had usually

stayed in now became a guest room, 215 reflecting the

dramatic deterioration in Motesiczky’s relationship with him

that had dominated the final years of her mother’s life.

In 1973 Motesiczky suffered her most bitter disappointment

when she learned, via friends and relatives, of Elias

Canetti’s second marriage. Until then, Canetti, who now

spent a lot of time in Zürich but regularly visited London,

had managed to keep secret from Motesiczky his relationship

with the conservator Hera Buschor, their marriage and

the subsequent birth of their daughter Johanna in 1972.

Feeling betrayed and unable to recover from this new

slight, she broke off all contact with Canetti. Henriette von

Motesiczky banned him from the house. Tentative attempts

at rekindling the friendship were made only after a break,

when it was possible to re-establish it on a brotherly basis. 216

In time Motesiczky conceded that Canetti had to live his

new, independent life as a husband and father: ‘Slowly, very

slowly the scales come down for you, your wife and the little

child and my pan is too light’. 217 An undated drawing shows

him weighing up his options, balancing two women on

large scales (fig. 39). Motesiczky’s unfailing belief in Canetti’s

professional ability survived her affront and was finally

vindicated in 1981 when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for

Literature. From the $180,000 he received as prize money

he repaid some of the debts incurred over the years when he

had been dependent on her financial support. Motesiczky

received numerous congratulatory letters on Canetti’s

success from friends and relatives, who were keen to point

out her contribution:

Three cheers for your friend Canetti! I think the

Nobel Prize Committee should do as they do in

hockey: credit not only the player who finally shoots

the puck into the goal, but give an ‘assist’ to the team

mate who feeds the puck to the scorer. You deserve

such a credit – and indeed an accolade! 218

By contrast, her own artistic career had been flagging

for a while. During the 1970s Motesiczky had not been

able to take much part in the contemporary art scene. She

participated in just two group exhibitions. ‘Hampstead in

the Thirties. A Committed Decade’ at the Camden Arts

Centre, London, in 1974, included two paintings that illustrate

both Motesiczky’s work and personal experience at

the time of her emigration and arrival in Hampstead: Selfportrait

with Red Hat, 1938 (no. 47), and The Travellers, 1940

(no. 50). ‘Portraits Today’, an exhibition of the Contemporary

Portrait Society held at the Qantas Gallery, London, in 1975,

presented the recently finished portrait of Gordon Winter

(no. 252) to the public. Motesiczky also twice attempted to

show her work at the Royal Academy. In 1977 she submitted

the portrait of Godfrey Samuel (no. 256), of which she was

extremely proud, for the Summer Exhibition, under the

title A Friend of the Royal Academy. After hoping in vain,

Motesiczky indignantly noted in her diary: ‘Royal Acad.

rejected’. 219 She overcame her disappointment in the early

1980s, probably in 1981, and sent two paintings, Countess

with Plum, 1944 (no. 65), and Alexander de Waal, 1981 (no.

272), to the Summer Exhibition. Yet again, the paintings

were not accepted.

The previous year, however, the exhibition ‘Max

Beckmanns Frankfurter Schüler 1925–1933’ had finally

introduced Motesiczky to the public as a Beckmann pupil,

while also acknowledging her as an artist in her own right.

It was held at the Kommunale Galerie im Refektorium des

Karmeliterklosters in Frankfurt am Main and, for the first

time, brought together almost all of Beckmann’s pupils

at the Städelschule: Carla Brill, Inge Dinand, Theo Garve,

Georg Heck, Walter Hergenhahn, Anna Krüger, Leo

Maillet, Hella Mandt, Friedrich Wilhelm Meyer, Marie-

Louise von Motesiczky, Alfred Nungesser and Karl Tratt.

On the whole, Beckmann’s pupils had remained obscure,

belonging to the so-called lost generation in Germany,

whose career was cut off by Hitler’s rise to power. The

exhibition, which was intended to celebrate Beckmann

as an ‘outstanding stimulator of young talent’, 220 received

‘an outstandingly strong response from the Frankfurt

population’, reaching visitor figures that were well above

average. 221 Motesiczky showed fourteen paintings, spanning

the whole of her career.

Her long-awaited artistic breakthrough in Britain came

a few years later, with the major solo exhibition at the

Goethe-Institut in London in 1985 entitled ‘Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky. Paintings Vienna 1925 – London 1985’.

Initiated by the Viennese author and former cultural affairs

correspondent in London for the Frankfurter Allgemeine

Zeitung, Hilde Spiel (1911–90), and steadfastly supported by

the institute’s director, Günter Coenen, the show assembled

50 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

seventy-three paintings from numerous public and private and Larry Berryman attested to its ‘staying power’. 226

collections or in the artist’s possession. The sizeable

Motesiczky received enthusiastic letters of appreciation

catalogue contained introductions to Motesiczky’s work from visitors to the exhibition. One admirer, for example,

by Günter Busch, the former director of the Kunsthalle wrote gratefully: ‘I am an ordinary Englishwoman aged 58

Bremen; Richard Calvocoressi, then a curator at the Tate who occasionally visits art exhibitions, and your paintings

Gallery and until 2007 the director of the Scottish National meant more to me than I think any other painting ever has.

Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; and Ernst Gombrich I think they would be just as important to other ordinary

who greatly admired her paintings. Like Motesiczky,

folk . . . I can’t thank you enough for the experience you

Gombrich had left Vienna to settle in England before the have given me by your works.’ 227 Elias Canetti was ecstatic

war. He had been introduced to the artist by his sister Dea, about the success of the exhibition:

a violinist and the wife of John Forsdyke, director of the

It is simply wonderful, the pictures themselves have

British Museum from 1936 to 1950, who had been a

their effect, late, but still in time, the painter Mulo

musician friend of Karl von Motesiczky in Vienna. In his

has been recognized and acknowledged. I am very

introduction Gombrich particularly praised Motesiczky’s

happy to have lived to see that, although I always

artistic independence that made her ‘incapable of adopting

knew it and there was never a second, whatever else

an “ism”’ or ‘striking a pose’. 222 In addition, as if to put

happened between us, that I lost faith in your painting.

You always knew that and some of my power of

an end to the discussion about Beckmann’s influence on

Motesiczky’s work, he stated: ‘What she owes to her admired

faith has passed into the painter. But all that is not

teacher, therefore, is not so much a style, let alone a manner,

so important now, because now there are the pictures

as a moral outlook, an approach to the vocation of art.’ 223

and will never disappear again. There are few things

The exhibition achieved universal critical acclaim.

that seem so just . . . The painter Mulo exists and

A number of major British newspapers, as well as

now will always exist! I don’t think it has ever

several continental ones, published glowing reviews of

happened before: that a painter was discovered at 80

the exhibition. Marina Vaizey hailed Motesiczky as ‘a

when still alive. Even the process itself is unique. 228

dazzling talent’ who had been ‘unveiled late in life’. 224

John Russell Taylor called her work a ‘blinding revelation’, 225

Fig. 39 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, Canetti with Two Women on Scales,

undated, brush, ink, black chalk and pastel on paper, 180 × 270 mm

(Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London)

Motesiczky herself at first did not realize the impact

the reviews had. In retrospect, she called the triumph of

the exhibition simply a ‘fairytale’. 229

Although the artistic recognition that followed the

exhibition at the Goethe-Institut came relatively late in life,

Motesiczky felt no bitterness but only intense pleasure and

satisfaction. Not having expected such a response, she was

all the more overwhelmed by the power of the positive

reviews. 230 The exhibition’s success also enabled her to sell

a number of paintings. Several were purchased by private

collectors. Three works representing the early and late

period of her oeuvre, View from the Window, Vienna, 1925

(no. 4), Still-life with Sheep, 1938 (no. 48), and From Night into

Day, 1975 (no. 251), entered the collection of the Tate Gallery,

London. They were presented to the public as recent acquisitions

in 1986. ‘Marie-Louise von Motesiczky. Paintings

Vienna 1925 – London 1985’ travelled to the Fitzwilliam

Museum in Cambridge. This second venue was arranged

with the help of Peter Black, 231 a young art historian who,

in the 1980s, lived in the artist’s house in Chesterford

Gardens. He was a fervent admirer of Motesiczky’s painting

and worked hard to help it gain prominence, showing her

works at two small exhibitions in 1989 and 1991 in London


and Cambridge and mediating in a substantial number

of sales to private collectors. He is now married to one

of Motesiczky’s Dutch relatives.

Motesiczky’s growing fame was certainly also due to

the interest that began to develop in the 1980s in the artists

who had fled Nazi-occupied Europe. Increasingly, exhibitions

were staged to present the work of these exiled artists

to a wider public. Three paintings by Motesiczky, Model,

Vienna, 1930 (no. 33), Frau Seidler, 1940 (no. 51), and Mother

and Child, c. 1954 (no. 133), for example, were shown in the

exhibition ‘Kunst im Exil in Großbritannien 1933–1945’,

held at the Orangery of Schloß Charlottenburg, Berlin,

in early 1986 and subsequently at the Städtische Galerie in

Oberhausen, the Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien and

the Camden Arts Centre, London. At the last of these it was

titled ‘Art in Exile in Great Britain 1933–1945’ and incorporated

an additional body of works that were of more direct

relevance to the location. It celebrated the ‘considerable

contribution to the cultural and political life of Camden’ 232

that these artists had made. The exhibition had a lasting

influence, especially in Germany and Austria, where the

art of emigrants had been ignored for a long time.

The growing public awareness of exile art in Great

Britain, the new home of so many displaced artists, also

led to the exhibition ‘Emigré Artists’ at the John Denham

Gallery, London, in 1987. It brought together seventy-eight

works by thirty-eight artists who had been forced by the

National Socialists to leave their native countries. In the

introduction to the catalogue John Denham acknowledged

that many of the artists, among them Jankel Adler, Martin

Bloch, Jacob Bornfriend, Milein Cosman, Hugo Dachinger,

Georg Ehrlich, Hans Feibusch, Paul Hamann, Erich Kahn,

Walter Nessler, Kurt Schwitters, Arthur Segal and Fred

Uhlmann, had so far been ‘seriously neglected’ or even

‘virtually forgotten’. 233 Motesiczky, who had shared this

fate for the greatest part of her life, showed two paintings,

Still-life with Scales, 1929 (no. 28), and Still-life with Gong,

1941 (no. 53).

As well as having entered the canon of exile artists,

Motesiczky was by now also firmly acknowledged as a

London painter. In 1986 Camden Arts Centre, just down

the road from Chesterford Gardens, staged an exhibition

that followed on from the 1974 show of local artists and

was called ‘Hampstead Artists 1946–1986’. Motesiczky’s

work was represented by an early portrait of her mother,

Reclining Woman with Pipe, 1954 (no. 129).

As late as 1992, an exhibition in Berlin for the first

time linked Motesiczky with Jewishness. The large-scale

presentation, ‘Jüdische Lebenswelten. Jüdisches Denken

und Glauben, Leben und Arbeiten in den Kulturen der Welt’,

at the Martin-Gropius-Bau gave an overview of Jewish life

and thinking around the world. It included Conversation in

the Library, 1950 (no. 103), Motesiczky’s portrait of two Jewish

intellectuals, fellow emigrants and friends, the poet and

anthropologist Franz Baermann Steiner (1909–52) and the

writer Elias Canetti (1905–94). Until now, Motesiczky’s

Jewish origins had never been considered in connection

with her oeuvre. Depicting no subject matter that could be

termed specifically either Jewish or Christian, the paintings

themselves bear no witness to the religious beliefs of their

creator. The themes of expulsion and flight, traditionally

associated with Jews and other victims of Nazi terror, are

expressed indirectly and transported to a non-specific level,

as for example in The Travellers, 1940 (no. 50). Motesiczky

had become aware of her Jewish roots only through

the racial policies of the National Socialists. In the years

immediately before her emigration, the term ‘Jude’ (Jew) in

reference to Motesiczky, her friends and relatives, entered

her correspondence only occasionally in a semi-comic,

mocking tone. The experience of the Second World War

and the Holocaust had changed this nonchalant attitude and

led to an awareness of shared identity. When, for example,

on a visit to Vienna in 1958, Motesiczky encountered a

complete stranger, she managed to create an immediate

understanding by asking: ‘Are you a Jew? – Yes, he said –

Me too, I said – and contact was established’. 234 Despite

this instant affiliation, Motesiczky, who did not believe in

God and had no faith in an afterlife, was not a religious

person. Over the years she increasingly accepted her

Jewish heritage, refraining, however, from adopting its

religious rites. Her contribution of two guineas towards

six trees for the Tuttnauer Memorial Forest in Israel in

1966 should probably be seen as a token gesture of goodwill

towards the State of Israel rather than a political or

religious statement. 235

final years

Her growing reputation as a painter, instigated by the

exhibition at the Goethe-Institut, caused Motesiczky to

consider her artistic legacy in the last years of her life.

She summed up her thoughts in the following letter:

I had my first true success late, when I was 80. This

however does not mean that my name is established –

that I can ask for high prices – you have to have many

52 the life of marie-louise von motesiczky

exhibitions, there should be a book etc. I will not live

to see this anyway. My oeuvre is small, I gave a lot of

time to my mother. Every picture counts . . . All that

matters to me is that what I attempted with all my

strength in sixty years does not disappear and that also

‘the image’ of my mother in the broader sense survives.

The paintings are meaningless if they cannot be shown

. . . I want to make sure that the paintings continue to

live, also physically – that people can see them – that

they don’t disappear in kitchens, ante-rooms, cellars and

finally in flea markets. Unfortunately, museums are

the only place where they can be safe. I don’t need to

live to see that, but I would like to secure their future

like other people want that for their children. 236

After consultations with many friends, relatives and

strangers and the birth and subsequent dismissal of various

ideas, this train of thought eventually led to the setting

up of the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust

in 1992. The Trust’s main aim is to further the education of

the public in the fine arts and to look after Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky’s artistic and personal legacy by familiarizing a

wider audience with her work. Motesiczky nominated five

trustees, Jeremy Adler (Professor of German, King’s College,

London), Michael Jaffé (Director, Fitzwilliam Museum,

Cambridge, 1923–97), her relative Richard Karplus, Sean

Rainbird (Curator, Tate Gallery, London, now Director of

the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart), and David Scrase (Assistant

Director, Collections, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge),

to oversee the Trust’s work, and she made over to it her

house with its contents, including her paintings, drawings,

sketchbooks, letters, diaries, photographs and books, as

well as sufficient funds to finance it. In 2006 Jeremy Adler

and Richard Karplus were replaced by Frances Carey (Head

of National Programmes at the British Museum) and the

solicitor Julian Chadwick. The Trust was thus in a position

to carry out the work Motesiczky wished, to research her

life and work and to preserve her paintings. It would not

have been possible to write her biography or compile a

catalogue raisonné of her paintings while she was still

alive since she obstructed all efforts to gain information.

She was, however, happy for this work to be carried out

after her death.

Two years before she died, Motesiczky experienced

a final triumph in her native Austria: the Österreichische

Galerie Belvedere in Vienna held a retrospective exhibition

of her work, organized by Peter Black, in spring 1994. Fifty

works, mainly paintings but also a few drawings, from

seven decades were shown, spanning her entire career.

The accompanying catalogue, which sold out completely,

brought together two earlier essays on Motesiczky by Ernst

Gombrich (in German translation) and Benno Reifenberg,

with Jeremy Adler’s fresh appraisal of her paintings entitled

‘Kunst als Feier’. Reviewers expressed unanimous relief

that, finally, this artist had come home and received the

recognition she deserved. Since the honour of a solo exhibition

at the Belvedere is only rarely bestowed on living

artists, the show was seen as an act of reparation. 237 In the

wake of the exhibition, the Österreichische Galerie also

purchased Self-portrait with Comb, 1926 (no. 13), for 300,000

Schillings, its second Motesiczky painting. Motesiczky

received several congratulatory letters marking the importance

of this acquisition: ‘Paintings, unlike books (as you

said) need a physical home to survive; yours have got it now

– and what a one, one of the best in the world. So, you too,

dear Marie-Louise, will never die.’ 238 The exhibition went

on to be shown at the Manchester City Art Galleries later

in the year.

By the time of this exhibition the artist had already

established her reputation as an important Austrian painter

of the twentieth century. In recognition of her achievement

she was awarded the Österreichisches Ehrenkreuz

für Wissenschaft und Kunst I. Klasse on 19 September

1994. 239 The following year six of her paintings were

included in the exhibition ‘Neue Sachlichkeit. Österreich

1918–1938’ at the Kunstforum Bank Austria in Vienna as

a matter of course. Her natural place in the canon of

Austrian art has since been repeatedly confirmed, for

example by the inclusion of Elias Canetti, 1960 (no. 165), in

the exhibition ‘Blickwechsel und Einblick. Künstlerinnen

in Österreich’ at the Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien,

and the selection of five of her paintings for the exhibition

‘Jahrhundert der Frauen. Vom Impressionismus zur

Gegenwart. Österreich 1870 bis heute’ at the Kunstforum,

both in 1999.

Motesiczky suffered badly from shingles in 1990. Yet,

amid the pain and preoccupation with the fate of her work,

her will to paint and her painterly interest remained undiminished

and she picked up a brush whenever possible. In

her last decade or so she preferred still-life painting, mainly

using flowers from her own garden. The last painting she

was working on was Still-life, Vase of Flowers, 1996 (no. 331).

It still stood on her easel when she died on 10 June 1996.

A memorial meeting was held at the Tate Gallery on 24

October 1996. Her ashes were buried in the family grave

on the Döblinger Friedhof in Vienna on 28 October 1997.


‘It is wonderful to have such a gift’ 240


von Motesiczky’s


the young motesiczky grew up surrounded by her

family’s traditional art collection, which revealed the influence

of the fashionable historicism of the nineteenth century.

Her great-grandparents acquired works of art by Makart and

commissioned Lenbach to paint their portraits. Motesiczky,

however, started to break this mould by admiring the

avant-garde works of Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and

Oskar Kokoschka, whose paintings she collected on

postcards. Her trip to the Netherlands in 1922 introduced

her to Jan Steen, Frans Hals and Vermeer and opened

her eyes to the paintings of Vincent van Gogh. Shortly

afterwards Max Beckmann and his work entered her life.

By the time Motesiczky started out on a professional

painting career she had already encountered the main

stylistic influences that were to shape her work – with the

exception of Oskar Kokoschka, whose art she got to know

intimately only in England.

In her choice of Beckmann as artistic model Motesiczky

is unique among her fellow Austrian artists of the 1920s

and 1930s. In retrospect, she admitted that among the

conservative tastes of her social circle this must have

seemed rather extravagant: ‘among my mother’s friends,

admirers of Hofmannsthal, I would have been hard put

to it to find one who was not horrified by Beckmann’s

early drawings, and certainly nobody would have

considered his paintings anything but perfectly hideous.’ 241

Motesiczky was therefore at the cutting edge of modern

art when her paintings were first exhibited in 1933.

Yet, despite being under the spell of her teacher,

Motesiczky was aware of another major problem:

‘It was certainly no easy matter to maintain even a spark

of independence.’ 242 Early on Lajos Hatvany warned her

of Beckmann’s overbearing influence: ‘The mannerism of

Beckmann is certainly harmful to you artistically. Remember

what the old Jew tells you, who, in fact, rather likes B.!’ 243

In a radio interview in 1987 Motesiczky confirmed that her

work, especially of the 1920s, owes much to Beckmann and

that, even late in life, the catalogue raisonné of his paintings

served as an extraordinary inspiration if ever she ran dry

(the bird in Sheela Bonarjee, 1964, no. 190, for example, was

modelled after one in Beckmann’s 1940 painting Die M wen,

fig. 147). She emphasized, however, that she considered

her oeuvre to be independent and of her own style, which

in turn she described as more lyrical and colourful than

her teacher’s. 244

Nevertheless, most reviewers of Motesiczky’s art refer to

Max Beckmann as her formative and main stylistic influence.

Yet, while occasionally her painting is dismissed as an

‘emasculated reminder’ 245 of Beckmann’s, there seems to be

general agreement that ‘any sense of direct indebtedness

soon fades’ 246 and that, in her lighter touch, there is no

slavish devotion to her teacher’s model. Since throughout

her career Motesiczky never followed an ‘ism’ or a temporary

fashion, it is acknowledged that she succeeded in

finding an artistic identity by settling on her own subject

matter and evolving a painterly idiom for herself. To a

lesser degree this realization of painterly influence and

kinship yet independence also refers to Oskar Kokoschka

as the other key figure for Motesiczky’s oeuvre, under

whose tutelage her brushwork became progressively freer.

Ernst Gombrich succinctly did away with the whole question

of epigonism by demanding that ‘we must not look for

imitations [of Beckmann and Kokoschka] in her oeuvre, but

at the most for emulations’. 247 In a similar vein the critic

Edith Hoffmann (née Yapou) characterized Motesiczky’s

debt to ‘two leaders of expressionism’ in the following way:

‘Her capacity to model with paint, to build up a composition,

bold, in big shapes, plastic and clear, is due to

Beckmann’s teaching, while her gayer, softer colours, and

her tendency to turn portraits into symbolic compositions

is influenced by Kokoschka.’ 248 Erhard Göpel, a friend of

Beckmann and, as the co-author of the catalogue raisonné

of his paintings, an expert on his work, also praised

Motesiczky’s success in proving her independence: ‘It must

have been difficult to defend yourself against such a strong

influence as that of Beckmann and to arrive at your own

style. Come to think of it, you are the only pupil of

Beckmann who managed to assimilate the influence and

to stay an independent artist, and that means a lot.’ 249

drawings and sketchbooks

The result of this tension was an oeuvre, created over a

period of more than seven decades, that comprises several

hundred oil paintings, numerous drawings and around a

hundred sketchbooks, as well as a clay relief of a kneeling

nude (now lost) and a painted cupboard that stood in

Motesiczky’s dining room. Probably least known, even to

admirers of her art, is the considerable body of drawings

that survives almost exclusively in the archive of the

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust. She was

always reluctant to admit to being able to draw, although

she had in fact been doing it all her life. Unfortunately

the drawings were never dated by the artist and therefore,

unless they refer to a particular painting, are often difficult

to allocate to a specific period. In addition, with the exception

of some extraordinary works such as At the Opera, 1920s

(p. 527), Self-portrait Playing Darts, late 1920s (p. 528), Siesta,

1933 (p. 530), Erna Wohl in the Bath, 1934 (p. 530), Portrait Frau

L., 1934 (p. 532), Aunts, Sketching, 1934 (p. 533), and Hunting,

1936 (p. 534), most of the early drawings, completed before

her arrival in England, appear lost. Judging by the surviving

examples, however, Motesiczky carried out her drawings,

which vary greatly in size, in many different media,

including chalk, charcoal, pastel and pencil, as well as,

occasionally, watercolour, felt-tip pen and ballpoint pen.

The subject matter of the drawings also covers a great

range, comprising cows, monkeys and other animals,

figurative scenes that are difficult to decipher and might

stem from dreams, landscapes such as her immediate

surroundings or impressions gained on holiday, selfportraits

and many portraits. Apart from a large number

of drawings of her mother, her favourite model, there are

portraits of unidentified sitters as well as several studies for

finished portraits. Motesiczky valued portrait drawings for

giving her a chance to try her hand at a person’s features,

but she also employed them as an aide-mémoire in the

absence of the model. Many drawings are preparatory

sketches for paintings – not all of which were ultimately

carried out. They often show her experimenting with

different elements of a composition, for example moving

around and replacing the objects of a still-life or the human

subjects of a figural scene. In most cases there is one

drawing linked with one particular painting, yet occasionally


marie-louise von motesiczky ’ s oeuvre

Motesiczky created a substantial number of drawings,

especially for portraits of her mother. From Night into Day,

1975 (no. 251), seems to have held a special fascination for

Motesiczky since there are more drawings for it than

for any other painting, plus a whole sketchbook.

The surviving sketchbooks almost span Motesiczky’s

entire career, although almost certainly some early ones

are lost. They vary enormously in size, quality and origin.

In many cases Motesiczky drew on only a few pages, usually

at the beginning and end, leaving most of the sketchbook

empty. In just a few instances the whole sketchbook has been

filled. The sketches are often very rough and were probably

carried out quickly. Like the drawings, the sketchbooks

use a variety of media. Motesiczky usually employed a soft

pencil, but she also used ink, felt-tip pen, ballpoint pen and

watercolour on a few pages. She frequently recorded ideas

for figural compositions, such as variations on a swimming

pool or street scenes. She also liked to sketch the

immediate view that presented itself to her, capturing the

countryside, parks, urban neighbourhoods or the view

from a window. Other pages contain portraits (often just

the head, sometimes whole figures – mainly unidentified

and not related to paintings), animals (dogs, pigs, monkeys,

donkeys, peacocks, snakes, cows, deer, pelicans), flowers,

still-lifes and nudes. A few sheets carry notes of the colours

Motesiczky intended to use in a worked-up version of

the sketch. Sometimes the sketches are interspersed with

personal notes, phone numbers and abandoned drafts

of letters. Rarely is a page torn out.


The most important body of work in Motesiczky’s oeuvre

is certainly her oil paintings. In total 337 paintings are

known. For a working life that lasted over seven decades

this might seem a relatively small output. Motesiczky was

a slow worker, 250 and although she worked continuously

throughout her life, usually concentrating on one painting

at a time, there were long periods of inactivity where she

did not get much work done. Apart from personal problems

with Canetti, it was mainly her mother, the worries

connected with her well-being and the running of the

household, that restricted her freedom and kept her from

the studio. Motesiczky acknowledged that she devoted

herself to her mother while never experiencing it as a

sacrifice: looking after her mother was always more important

to her than preparing an exhibition. Therefore, she

admitted, many chances might have been missed since it

was not possible to do everything with the same intensity. 251

Besides, being privileged enough not to have to earn a

living, she was never under economic pressure to paint

more pictures in order to make money. Taking her profession

very seriously, she was happiest when she was not

distracted by her surroundings and able to paint in peace.

Usually she based her paintings on a charcoal underdrawing,

laid directly on the primed canvas; towards the end of her

career she sometimes employed pastel, chalk or charcoal

on top of the paint. A rare example of her use of other

materials can be seen in Still-life Christmas Mail, 1988

(no. 294). She also produced five paintings and one drawing

on hardboard. Apart from completed or almost completed

canvases her estate also contained ten canvases that show

only an underdrawing, as well as twenty that are probably

finished but were not attached to a stretcher.

Many of Motesiczky’s paintings remained unframed

during her lifetime. If paintings were framed, she preferred

simple wooden frames that defined a clear boundary

without ‘painting the picture further’. 252 She chose colours

that did not occur in the picture, often a light grey. As if to

make up for the lack of a frame, Motesiczky employed a

stylistic device in a number of still-lifes and portraits incorporating

the frame in the picture. Usually on two sides, the

top and one side, she painted solid blocks of colour, giving

the image firm support. Self-portrait in Black, 1959 (no. 159),

with its two distinct black borders, is the most striking

example. In Nude, 1931 (no. 36), and Self-portrait with Red

Hat, 1938 (no. 47), the black lines, although thinner, are no

less effective in anchoring the figure. In some paintings

Motesiczky experimented with different colours, positions

and lengths of the two-part frame (for example, Dwarf,

1928, no. 22; Hilda, c. 1937, no. 44; Chemists Shop, 1964,

no. 196; and Mother in Green Dressing Gown, 1975, no. 250).

In a simplified version, the border runs along just one

side, as for example in Small Roulette, 1924 (no. 1), where

she first tried out this idea, Fr ulein Engelhardt, 1926/7

(no. 15), Frau Saaler, c. 1942 (no. 60), and Frau Litwin, 1952

(no. 115). In a further variation, Motesiczky dissolves the

strict border, incorporating it as part of the composition,

for example a window (Still-life with Tulips, 1926, no. 11, and

Portrait of a Russian Student, 1927, no. 16), the back of a sofa

(Dorothy, 1945, no. 74) or a door-frame (Marie in Doorway,

after 1954, no. 134).

The paintings are usually medium-sized. There are a

few exceptions among the figural paintings, which tend to

be larger. The Old Song, 1959 (no. 158), is by far the biggest

canvas Motesiczky ever used. The elongated vertical format


of some earlier works, including View from the Window,

Vienna, 1925 (no. 4), View of Vienna, 1925 (no. 3), and Summer

Landscape, 1926 (no. 14), which was inspired by Beckmann,

was not repeated later. Some late still-lifes, such as Still-life

with Lemon, 1980 (no. 268), were painted on a particularly

intimate scale.

On a practical level, Motesiczky tackled the problem of

making an inventory of her paintings only late in life. For

the first decades of her artistic career there are only

disparate records and no consistent lists. In 1985 she hired

a part-time secretary, Barbara Price, who prepared the first

comprehensive set of index cards for the paintings.

Compiled with great care and to the best of the artist’s

knowledge, they nevertheless contain a number of

mistakes. 253 The majority of Motesiczky’s paintings have

been neither signed nor dated. So, according to Barbara

Price, some dates had to be arrived at by guessing. Even

earlier on, in numerous instances Motesiczky had dated

her paintings incorrectly. Having completed a picture she

would not automatically sign and date it. So it could be

decades later that the need finally arose, perhaps in

connection with an exhibition or at the request of a buyer.

It is not surprising that she sometimes assigned a work to

the wrong year. In one instance, when asked to sign and

change a small detail of the composition she took the

opportunity to overpaint a substantial part of the original.

Sheela Bonarjee, 1964 (no. 190), now sports a totally new

background, painted in the 1980s. It is also incorrectly

dated 1969. As a consequence of these peculiarities, a

substantial number of paintings in Motesiczky’s oeuvre

cannot be matched to a specific year with any certainty.

The catalogue raisonné therefore contains time spans for

several paintings where even a stylistic analysis did not

allow greater precision. In a number of cases, however,

mistakes in dating paintings have been rectified by crossreferencing

information from the archive.

For her paintings Motesiczky preferred to use understated

titles that often fail to explain the content of the

picture. Although The Balcony, 1929 (no. 30), might from its

title be a landscape, it is in fact a self-portrait in the nude.

Another painting, created in 1940, depicts four people in a

boat (no. 50). Knowing the artist’s biography, it is immediately

clear that the subject matter is her enforced crossing

of the Channel into exile. However, its unspecific title, The

Travellers, opens up the field for different interpretations. 254

The title of a double portrait, Evelyn and Friend, painted in

1980 (no. 270), obscures the fact that Evelyn’s companion

is the artist herself.

Throughout her life, Motesiczky used various signatures

for her work. She sometimes put only her name or

the date, but usually used a combination, employing

several variations of her first name and surname, ranging

from ‘Marie Louise’, ‘marie louise’ and ‘marie louise.

m.’ to ‘motesiczky’, ‘M. Motesiczky’, ‘m. motesiczky’

and ‘M.L. Motesiczky’. At times she used only her initials,

signing ‘MM’, ‘M.M.’, ‘MLM’ or ‘M.L.M.’. In an attempt to

make her name more memorable to a potential purchasing

public, she experimented with shortening it to ‘Motesi’

(Still-life with Clematis, 1948, no. 82) or, omitting the ‘z’,

simplifying it to ‘Motesicky’. This version, by no means

easier to pronounce, was originally used for Still-life with

Gong, 1941 (no. 53), Countess with Plum, 1944 (no. 65), and

Three Heads, 1944 (no. 69), although later overpainted

and the missing letter inserted.

The most difficult task, however, is to establish the

often complicated provenance of numerous works.

Motesiczky often gave paintings away, then changed her

mind and wanted them back. Sometimes she kept them

for signing or refused to return paintings to their rightful

owners after they had been shown in an exhibition.

Occasionally she re-used a canvas, overpainting the unsuccessful

earlier image. In the absence of documentation

it is often impossible to give the exact dates when paintings

passed from one owner to another. Equally, some (temporary)

owners may have been omitted from this account.

Furthermore, it has not been possible physically to locate

every painting. While a few were lost during the artist’s

lifetime, some current owners could not be found and

one painting, Portrait, American Model, 1965 (no. 199), was

destroyed in a house fire in 2003. On the other hand, it

seems that Motesiczky did not dispose of paintings with

which she was not happy. Several unfinished, apparently

abandoned works have come to light in the course of

research for the catalogue raisonné.

artistic identity

Apart from a comparatively small number of paintings

that have been shown repeatedly in major exhibitions,

Motesiczky’s oeuvre seems not to have been as exposed to

the public as it might have been. Being forced into exile

early in her career brought with it the loss of professional

networks that she struggled to rebuild in a foreign country.

Natural reticence, a tendency to dither, an inability to make

decisions and an inborn demand for respect that stemmed

from her aristocratic upbringing made it even more difficult


marie-louise von motesiczky ’ s oeuvre

for her to assert herself professionally. All in all, despite her

aversion to public exposure and her reluctance to sell her

paintings, she managed to show her work in a substantial

number of both solo and group exhibitions yet still

remained relatively obscure. Her art never followed the

current fashion and probably failed to touch the right nerve

in her adopted country, where German Expressionism and

Neue Sachlichkeit were neither understood nor liked,

and never had a great following. Even Max Beckmann

and Oskar Kokoschka, long recognized as leading artists

of the twentieth century in their home countries, struggled

to gain artistic recognition in Great Britain. Failed attempts

to mount exhibitions abroad, for example in New York in

the 1960s, can probably also be attributed to the lack of

interest in figurative art in the post-war period when

abstract paintings dominated the international art scene.

Even in her native Austria, where her social and artistic

networks had all but disappeared, she experienced

difficulties in gaining recognition for several decades.

Despite being an outsider in both her home and her

adopted country, Motesiczky never gave up believing in

her work and kept the hope of eventually being recognized.

She often worried about the success of an individual painting,

especially while working on it, and she occasionally

experienced periods of hopelessness. Friends, who were

equally convinced of Motesiczky’s talent, would usually try

to cheer her up. While Miriam Rothschild simply enthused:

‘You are such a fantastically gifted creature’, 255 Quappi

Beckmann conjured up her late husband’s good judgement:

‘don’t despair or rather don’t doubt yourself – it is not true

– it [lack of success] is not up to your pictures!! Remember

what Becki told you!!’ 256 Elias Canetti resorted to pointing

out the importance of Motesiczky’s pictures ‘without

which I can not even imagine my life’. 257 Yet, ultimately,

Motesiczky, against the odds, harboured no doubts about

the quality of her oeuvre: ‘I know that my things are now

worth nothing. (although I believe in my painting more

than ever.)’ 258

Coming to terms with the negative effects emigration

had had on her work, she was aware that one does not

necessarily work best under the best conditions and

that the experience of exile is not entirely negative. She

appreciated London as a sanctuary of human individuality

and especially liked ‘the reticence of English life’:

The artist is left alone with himself. Sometimes too

much. He has to learn to use his imagination; he

needs more perhaps here than elsewhere. I shall never

be English enough to fall in love with quarries or old

tree trunks, but London for me contains everything.

And the exotic English faces: marvellous eccentric

old ladies and a whole race of quixotic gentlemen –

a sanctuary of human individuality, intricate and

inexhaustible. 259

Apart from Britain being a treasure trove for models,

Motesiczky especially liked the country’s beautiful parks

and museums. 260 In the 1980s she described her still being

in England in a matter-of-fact, non-sentimental way: ‘I am

simply here . . . The language really is a disadvantage for

me. But an émigré . . . in the sense that I have experienced

an injustice – [I am] not at all.’ 261 Besides, she had become

a firm part of a community of fellow emigrants who made

her feel at home: ‘Here in Hampstead we are an absolutely

German speaking island. You would not realize that you

are in England at all.’ 262

Her struggle for recognition as an artist was not helped

by the relatively small amount of public exposure of her

work within her lifetime. This resulted in a lack of artistic

guidance through contemporary, impartial outside criticism.

There were plenty of comments on her paintings

from her mother, Canetti, some family members and

friends. Yet these remarks often were too well-meaning,

encouraging and sometimes effusive to give her an independent

opinion that might have changed her work. More

exposure to criticism and increased confrontation with

contemporary artists, whom she often failed to understand,

would probably have caused Motesiczky’s art to develop

differently. As it was, she came to terms with this fundamentally

lonely existence. Her art was allowed to develop

independently; she relied on the sense of culture and

identity that she had brought with her. In retrospect she

summed up the lack of confrontation in her painting:

‘Isolation is a word. It sounds sad, but it can also be something

very beautiful. Whether the isolation is good or bad

only becomes clear much later.’ 263 Being forced into exile

did, however, change her outlook on life. Before, she had

been concerned only with painting beautiful pictures,

but the experience of exile made her focus less on herself.

Probably as a consequence of her reclusive creative

existence, Motesiczky did not leave any theoretical

statements about the principles of her art other than a

categorical rejection of abstract art. In her diaries and

letters she rarely commented on individual paintings,

mainly discussing their progress or lack thereof, occasionally

expressing her satisfaction at a successful completion.


This gives even more weight to the few self-revelatory

remarks in which she expressed her primary concern with

the narrative structure of her pictures. She once explained

her method as follows: ‘I usually have to paint after nature

– but in the course of a picture I have to be able to invent

freely. Then a story can evolve … stories inspire the

eyes.’ 264 Oskar Kokoschka particularly admired this gift.

‘You can still tell stories!’, he praised her. 265 While she is

once quoted as saying: ‘Everything figurative, beyond the

portrait, is for me a story’, 266 she later extended this to

portraits. 267 Guided by her overriding interest in human

character, Motesiczky always saw the figure as suggestive

of drama. 268 Beyond that, it is especially the still-lifes that

she uses in a masterly way to tell a story. Objects act as

reminders of absent friends or lost family members: in

Still-life with Tulips, 1926 (no. 11), a book is inscribed with

the name of a secret lover. The book that features in

Orchid, 1958 (no. 153), is a reference to her relationship with

Elias Canetti. Still-life with Photo, 1930 (no. 34), is full of

reminders of a world about to crumble. In Still-life with

Sheep, 1938 (no. 48), this world has already disintegrated

and needs to be reassembled. The empty chairs in Still-life

with Asters, 1985 (no. 281), emphasize the artist’s loneliness

after her mother’s death. Conceiving a narrative was thus

at the heart of her creative process.

subject matter

Motesiczky’s artistic world revolves around a limited

number of subjects: landscapes, self-portraits, portraits,

among which the series of her mother are the most

striking, and still-lifes. The latter play a special role in her

oeuvre. They form a large group of works that Motesiczky

produced throughout her career. Combining a momentous

tranquillity with a gentle brilliance, they are also filled

with charm and poetry. Generally, the still-lifes show

Motesiczky’s domestic surroundings and personal belongings.

While they occasionally focus on individual objects

(for example Still-life with Fish, 1982, no. 277), they usually

present a combination of items. Although carefully

arranged, these compositions often seem to record a

casual scene that the artist came across by chance. Many

of the objects depicted in the still-lifes have survived in the

artist’s estate. Amazingly, the toy roulette of the first stilllife,

Small Roulette, 1924 (no. 1), although slightly warped,

was still in the artist’s possession at her death. For the

more recent still-lifes, she used flowers from her own

garden which she arranged in vases in colourful bunches.

Significantly, the spatial relations of many still-lifes are

unclear and undefined – Motesiczky frequently uses a

crooked perspective and overlaps parts (the most obvious

spatial manipulation, however, occurs not in a still-life but

in Studio with Nude Model, 1970, no. 239). Several still-lifes

such as Irises and Peonies, 1945 (no. 72), present an extraordinarily

narrow view. Others, including Still-life, Red Rose,

1961 (no. 176), are seen from an extremely close viewpoint

which elevates the objects to a monumental scale.

Landscapes, although painted only occasionally, also

run through Motesiczky’s career like a red thread. They

were often inspired by one of her frequent trips abroad.

Her visit to a bullring in Madrid in 1927 is recorded in

Bullght, 1928 (no. 20). A holiday in North Wales during the

Second World War resulted in Pier Llandudno, 1944 (no. 64).

A visit to relatives who had settled in Portugal produced

a rare seascape, Cascais, 1954 (no. 127). Her long trip to

Mexico in the 1950s inspired several paintings, among

them Yucatan, Mexico, 1956 (no. 145). Kitzb hel, 1958 (no. 155),

is a souvenir of a skiing trip to the Austrian resort with

friends. A particularly striking view over the Bay of Tunis

led to the creation of Tunisian Landscape, 1964 (no. 197).

Mountains and Orange Trees in Mallorca, 1989/91 (no. 307),

is a reminder of one of her last holidays. Apart from her

travels, she drew her inspiration from her familiar

surroundings. Kr pfelsteig, Hinterbr hl, 1927 (no. 17), and

View from the Window, Vienna, 1925 (no. 4), define the main

localities of her childhood and young adulthood. Regents

Park, 1951 (no. 108), Finchley Road at Night, 1952 (no. 110),

and Golders Hill Park, 1981 (no. 274), mark the small area

in north London in which her later life was based. Other

outdoor scenes, usually including figures, take place in her

own Hampstead garden. 269 She usually relied on sketches

done in situ when it came to preparing landscapes, but

sometimes resorted to photographs as aides-mémoire in

the creative process. She often took her camera with her

on trips 270 and occasionally based a landscape painting on

a photograph. Haystacks, c. 1958 (no. 156), for example, may

have been inspired by a photograph and Mountains and

Orange Trees in Mallorca, 1989/91, was based on a series

of photographs taken during a recent holiday. One paintsmeared

photograph that survived in the estate must have

been the direct model for The Two Lakes, c. 1988 (no. 296).

Deeply interested in, and fascinated by, human beings

and their relationships, Motesiczky’s main subject is the

portrait. Her portraits, of which she painted a large

number, are generally considered to be her best and

strongest works. 271 For Ernst Gombrich, ‘Motesiczky’s


marie-louise von motesiczky ’ s oeuvre

portraits are marked by the sensitive empathy which

enables her to convey the presence of the sitter without

resorting to caricature or expressionist distortion’. 272 They

are painted with a psychological insight that seeks an inner

truth yet does not lack a ‘mischievous chuckle’. 273 Critics

have repeatedly compared her portraits with works by

Rembrandt in terms of seriousness and humanity. 274

Indeed, she admired and was inspired by Rembrandt: ‘No

one has ever died for a portrait by Rembrandt (yet some

might have lived for it, me for example, ha, ha)’. 275

Like Rembrandt, Motesiczky never sought to flatter

the sitter. Her portraits refrain from beautification and

idealization and instead attempt tenderly to penetrate the

true character of the person portrayed. She consistently

employed statuesque poses and the half-length format. She

focused on the model’s head, which she rendered in detail,

while often treating the rest of the body and the clothes

summarily; the surroundings stay undefined and are merely

hinted at in many instances. She also liked to create some

interest, without diverting attention from the sitter, for

example by dividing the background into two distinct

halves behind the sitter’s head (Portrait of a Russian Student,

1927, no. 16; Model, Vienna, 1929, no. 27; Model, Vienna, 1930,

no. 32; or Coloured Model, c. 1956, no. 148). Since Motesiczky

preferred to have already or to establish a personal relationship

with her models, she paid particular attention to

emphasizing the sitter’s characteristic personality as she

understood it. In several instances she depicted her subject

with defining objects which were invented. The actress

Ray Litvin, whom Motesiczky painted in 1952 (Frau Litwin,

no. 115), for example, is shown holding a cigarette although

she was not a smoker. Similarly, Maureen Fallon, the subject

of Portrait Maureen, 1977/8 (no. 258), did not play the trombone,

but Motesiczky felt the instrument best expressed

her personality. Sometimes, for example in Portrait of

Elizabeth, 1990 (no. 308), sensing that part of a painting

could not be carried out satisfactorily, Motesiczky tried to

disguise the troublesome area by adding a piece of fabric

that, like a curtain, gently smoothes over the edges. 276

While Motesiczky chose to work with life models, she

painted some portraits from memory. For several others

she used photographs as aides-mémoire. This solitary

method suited her aversion to being watched at work or to

anyone seeing a painting before it was finished. In the last

decades of her life she increasingly relied on photographs.

Usually, she took a whole series of photographs (for

example for the portraits of Victor de Waal, 1979, no. 260;

Elizabeth Tollinton, 1990, no. 308; Jeremy Adler, 1992/4,

no. 319; and Mitzi Rafael, 1988, no. 290), showing the model

in different poses and guises, so that she could continue

working in the absence of the sitter. For her portraits of

Elias Canetti, she had to resort almost exclusively to photographs

because he declined to sit. The posthumous portrait

of Marie, Marie in Doorway, after 1954 (no. 134), was also

based on a photograph. Individual photographs sometimes

even seem to have inspired paintings. Those showing her

elderly mother taking a slow walk along a garden path

appear to have led to the creation of The Way, 1967 (no. 216).

A substantial number of Motesiczky’s sitters remain

unidentified. In the 1920s and early 1930s she tended to

use anonymous, probably paid, models. Due to high unemployment

there was a good market for models into which

Motesiczky could easily tap. 277 Identities stay hidden in

generic titles such as Model, Vienna, 1929 and 1930 (nos 27,

32 and 33), and Nude, 1931 (no. 36). Only occasionally do

the titles of early portraits hint at the sitter’s social group

(Apache, 1926, no. 9) or particular occupation (The Undertaker,

1925, no. 2). After her move to Britain Motesiczky’s

portraits became more frequent. She painted the portraits

of those close to her, Marie (Girl by the Fire, 1941, no. 52),

her landlady (Frau Seidler, 1940, no. 51), her landlord (Father

Milburn, 1958, no. 154), a neighbour (Old Woman, Amersham,

1942, no. 59), her relatives (Countess with Plum, 1944, no. 65)

and friends (Portrait Ludwig Baldass, 1957, no. 151).

Henriette von Motesiczky, of course, was the subject of

a whole series of portraits. She was constantly available and

also willing to sit. Yet Motesiczky still chose other models

who remain anonymous (Portrait of a Smiling Lady, 1944,

no. 67, or Indian Mother with Child, 1945, no. 76). Having

exhausted her immediate surroundings and encountering

problems finding suitable models, later she even turned to

strangers. In her search for new faces she spoke to people

she passed on the street or found sitting on a park bench

and whose looks she found interesting, and asked them

to sit for a portrait. This approach produced portraits such

as Sheela Bonarjee, 1964 (no. 190), and Lorette as Painter,

1968 (no. 220). She also managed to convince some of her

lodgers to become models (Man with Green Scarf, 1975,

no. 249). A few poignant portraits are memorials to

deceased loved ones. After the Ball, painted in 1949 (no. 87),

commemorates Karl von Motesiczky who had perished

in Auschwitz in 1943. Marie in Doorway, after 1954 (no. 134),

is a posthumous tribute to her dear friend and ‘second

mother’, Marie Hauptmann.

Although Motesiczky did not seek commissions, she was

aware of the importance of portraiture for her development


as an artist. She was frequently asked by friends, relatives

and strangers to make portraits, yet felt able to take up only

a few commissions: ‘I must and want to paint more people

– but I think it should not be portrait commissions but

people I ask – that is the limit of what I can bear.’ 278 Over

the years, however, starting in the 1950s, she carried out

several portrait commissions – not always to the full satisfaction

of the patron. As happened with Iris Murdoch, 1964

(no. 193), several resulted in disapproval, even rejection, of

the paintings. Her detached objectivity allowed the viewer

an insight into aspects of the sitter’s personality that he/she

might not be willing to disclose. In 1954, for example, she

was commissioned to paint the portrait of Ursula Vaughan

Williams (1911–2007), the young wife of the composer

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958), a friend of Elias

Canetti (no. 132). Motesiczky portrays the sitter seated in an

armchair, her gaze directed towards the floor. Although the

portrait was first accepted, it was returned to the artist in

1958. According to its current owner, the Vaughan Williams

had been dissatisfied with the fact that the sitter, a lively

and vivacious person, was portrayed in a pose that, they

felt, did not accurately convey her beauty and character.

Several decades later Baron Philippe de Rothschild (1902–

88) commissioned Motesiczky to paint his portrait. After

staying with him at Mouton Rothschild in France for a few

weeks in spring 1986 Motesiczky created a striking likeness

(no. 287). Yet it soon became clear that the Baron, who had

seen only an illustration of the portrait, neither intended

to accept nor was prepared to pay for it. Portrait Philippe de

Rothschild subsequently found its way into the collection of

the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Another commission

the following year proved equally disappointing. On the

recommendation of Ernst Gombrich, Motesiczky was

invited by the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain

and Ireland to paint a portrait of Cyril Frederick Scurr,

one of the Association’s former presidents (no. 288). The

finished work, however, did not meet the approval of

the patrons since, according to the sitter, ‘the style of the

portrait was not suitable to hang at the Association in the

gallery of presidential portraits at their headquarters’. 279

Portrait of the Anaesthetist Dr Cyril Scurr is now in a private


Yet, despite these bad experiences, Motesiczky carried

on accepting commissions, always agonizing about her

ability to capture adequately the personality of the individual

portrayed. Some of the sitters were eminent figures, for

example the journalist Benno Reifenberg, 1968 (no. 218),

the zoologist Miriam Rothschild, 1968/9 (no. 224), Victor de

Waal, the Dean of Canterbury, 1979 (no. 260), and Robert

T. Holtby, the Dean of Chichester, 1987 (no. 289). One of

her favourite subjects was Elias Canetti, who also commissioned

a number of paintings over the years, including

one of Veza which was not carried out. 280 He repeatedly

expressed a wish for a portrait of himself, which

Motesiczky granted several times in the course of her

life. Elias Canetti, 1960 (no. 165), for example is now in

the collection of the Wien Museum. In 1990 Canetti

approached Motesiczky with the following words:

Again and again I am asked for a portrait, even by

artists who are not too bad. I always decline, for

two reasons, first because I think of the very best

portraitist who knows me as well as nobody else, but

then also because I cannot sit. I therefore commission

you to paint a portrait of E.C. from memory. I believe

that could turn out extremely well. 281

Motesiczky took up the challenge, using a press photograph

as model. The finished work, however, did not find

favour with Canetti and Portrait Elias Canetti, 1992 (no. 315),

now belongs to the National Portrait Gallery in London.

While some portraits of Canetti entered public collections,

several remained in the possession of the artist.

Study of Canetti Reading, c. 1945 (no. 78), and Canetti, London,

1965 (no. 200), show the author involved in what must be

one of his favourite activities, reading – as does Self-portrait

with Canetti, 1960s (no. 237). Here, however, the emphasis

is on the almost palpable estrangement of the two protagonists

who occupy different parts of the composition and

appear not to be interacting. This, presumably, has to be

read as a comment on the current state of their relationship.

Another work that may be interpreted as a double

portrait of the painter and the author goes to even greater

lengths to display the problems Motesiczky had with their

relationship. Nude with a Rat and Books, painted in the

early 1970s (no. 246), shows a female nude (Motesiczky)

reclining on a low bed. A rat (Canetti) is positioned

between her drawn-up legs, totally engrossed in reading a

book and a newspaper propped up against the nude’s torso.

Robbed of any space to move and any chance of attracting

the rat’s attention, her face has taken on a resigned, longsuffering

expression while the rat, preoccupied with itself,

is seemingly unaware of her plight. The different hopes

and expectations which characterized the relationship are

revealed in another, earlier painting in which Motesiczky

had already unsuccessfully attempted to incorporate

Canetti into her family. In the Garden, 1948 (no. 81), whose


marie-louise von motesiczky ’ s oeuvre

German title is Familienbild, brings together the artist,

her aunt Ilse Leembruggen and Canetti in a sunlit outdoor

setting. Yet Canetti’s frowning looks, detached stance

and disapproving attitude suggest that he did not feel

comfortable at being thus appropriated.

In a few, rare cases Motesiczky went beyond the mere

depiction of the individual by placing it in a social context.

In Conversation in the Library, 1950 (no. 103), two scholars,

Franz Baermann Steiner and Elias Canetti, conduct a heated

discussion. The young couple Lo and Lilly, painted in 1951

(no. 107), enjoy a meal together. Mother and Child, c. 1954

(no. 133), shows the artist’s friend Georgette Lewinson as

a new mother, playing with her baby son. These double

and triple portraits, however, remain the exception in

her oeuvre.

An equally small but distinct group of works that stand

out among the figural compositions are the so-called

‘fantasy paintings’. In an oeuvre that is otherwise firmly

based in reality, these magical, sometimes uncanny

pictures seem to originate in the realm of fairytale, fantasy

or vision. Set in a mysterious imaginary world, their cryptic

symbolism can be difficult to decipher but nevertheless

succeeds in captivating the viewer. The majority of these

‘fantasy paintings’, in which critics perceived a kinship

with Max Beckmann, 282 date from the 1950s and 1960s. By

this time a mature artist, Motesiczky had long found the

style and subject matter that suited her and now felt able

to explore further:

For many years I have worked almost exclusively from

nature because I did not dare to render the wealth

and the uniqueness which moved me, without looking

at it. But it has always been a complicated process to

transform reality, to reveal it through colour, so that

one can grasp it at all. Now I feel I have come far

enough even to paint dreams. 283

Among these paintings inspired by dreams is Morning in

the Garden, 1943 (no. 61), in which two women wearing

nightclothes play an enigmatic, almost surreal ball game.

In The Magic Fish, 1956 (no. 146), a scantily clad woman is

engaged in a grotesque, seemingly fateful battle with a

flying fish. Parting, 1957 (no. 149), presents an eclectic group

of human beings and disembodied angels in a strange

gathering around a crystal ball. These often playful scenes

can border on caricature, as in Confrontation in the Forest,

c. 1970 (no. 240), which shows the artist’s defence against

lesbian advances, or in Swimming Pool, 1967 (no. 210), in

which comical characters populate a pool by the sea. In

imitation of the biblical David playing the harp before King

Saul, The Old Song, 1959 (no. 158), depicts an old woman,

Henriette von Motesiczky, reclining in bed while listening

to a white-haired, ermine-cloaked ‘rhapsodian’ playing a

harp at her bedside. A tousled bird, reminiscent of a heraldic

eagle, appears to disturb the rendition. Apart from biographical

allusions which are difficult to decipher, The Old Song

conjures up the universal image of the loneliness of old

age. Hilde Spiel called the painting a ‘grandiose allegorical

composition’. 284 Similarly, several of Motesiczky’s ‘fantasy

paintings’ can be read as allegories. Swimming Pool has

connotations of a Fountain of Youth and The Travellers,

1940 (no. 50), can be seen as a Ship of Fools. As numerous

small sketches show, Motesiczky possessed a wealth of

further ideas for fantastical paintings which were never

carried out.

Perhaps following in the footsteps of Rembrandt and

van Gogh, Motesiczky also created a large number of selfportraits

during her long career. Apart from many sketches

and drawings, numerous paintings present the artist to

the viewer. They are generally considered to be among the

best works in her oeuvre, simply ‘perfect pictures’. 285 One

admiring critic compared them to the other outstanding

series: ‘The self-portraits are no less moving than the

portraits of the mother.’ 286 In the self-portraits Motesiczky

carefully confronts her own reality. She tentatively investigates

various aspects of her personality, her beauty, her age,

her profession, her relationships, and extracts powerful

images which capture her current state of mind and the

circumstances in which she finds herself. The self-portraits

are an outstanding record of self-observation and form

a chronicle of her life.

In one series of self-portraits, Motesiczky focuses on

herself as a woman. These paintings exude an uncompromising

sense of reality and faint melancholy, while at the

same time depicting a woman who is aware of her charms.

The graceful, youthful face with its characteristic slightly

open lips and large, questioning eyes hardly changes and

remains easily recognizable over the years. Her attitude

to life and her outward circumstances, however, change

as the years advance. Self-portrait with Comb, 1926 (no. 13),

shows the young Motesiczky at her daily toilet, holding a

comb and a little hand mirror. Pale and fragile, she appears

only shyly to confront her own image. In contrast, the

drawing Self-portrait Playing Darts, late 1920s (p. 528),

depicts a more self-confident Motesiczky as an energetic

sportswoman who looks at ease in her felt slippers and

untidy surroundings. A self-assured if somewhat defiant


woman faces the viewer also in Self-portrait with Straw Hat,

1937 (no. 42), and in Self-portrait with Red Hat, 1938 (no. 47),

Motesiczky reaches the climax of her elegance, beauty and

confidence despite the recent personal upheaval of leaving

her home country. In the full knowledge of her enchanting

good looks she coquettishly includes the profile of a recent

lover. The experience of the London Blitz and the start of

a complicated love affair with a married man cause Selfportrait

in Green, 1942 (no. 55), to take on the air of startled

anxiety and alarm. A sense of resignation characterizes

Three Heads, 1944 (no. 69), which shows Motesiczky as

a weary housewife going about her domestic chores. In

Self-portrait with Veil, 1955 (no. 142), Motesiczky, slightly

worried, honestly assesses her by now mature face. As a

concession to her concern about her thinning, fine hair,

a veil protectively envelopes her head, enabling her to hide.

The middle-aged woman in Self-portrait in Black, 1959 (no.

159), dressed in elegant clothes, appears ready for a night

out. Yet her face wears a mixture of sadness and desolation

that does not bode well. Motesiczky’s tranquil disillusionment

has progressed further in Self-portrait with Pears, 1965

(no. 202), in which, faced with the onset of old age and

loneliness, she seems to be pondering the nature, or even

the loss, of beauty. The Last Self-portrait, 1993 (no. 322),

however, is a final triumph of defiance. Beautifully made

up, the artist movingly portrays herself adopting a regal

posture while her sparse hair, now white, is covered by a

hat. The aristocratic aloofness of the grand figure conveys

the ultimate victory over concepts of age and beauty.

Several of the self-portraits also reveal Motesiczky’s

fascination with her own reflection. She repeatedly

explored this motif in photography, taking pictures of

herself in a mirror or a shop window or posing for others

with a mirror (fig. 40). Motesiczky often included the

mirrors in her self-portraits as a ‘symbol of a thoughtful

search to find the truth behind appearance’. 287 Far from

being a symbol of female vanity in these works, the mirrors

should be seen as the tool that enabled her to carry out the

painting. In some works such as Self-portrait with Comb,

1926 (no. 13), At the Dressmakers, 1930 (no. 35), or Self-portrait

with Mirror, c. 1985 (no. 284), the mirror is a mere accessory.

In others, however, the mirror becomes an integral part of

the composition since the artist is seen only as a reflection

in it. In Self-portrait with Mirror, 1949 (no. 85), and Selfportrait

with Pears, 1965 (no. 202), Motesiczky presents

the image she actually saw when producing the work.

By taking up the position of an onlooker and distancing

herself from her image she objectifies and legitimizes

the scrutiny of herself that would otherwise be considered

vanity. Self-portrait in Mirror Looking Left, 1940s (no. 91),

again shows only Motesiczky’s mirror-image. Yet, curiously,

she disguises the likeness by avoiding a frontal view,

instead depicting her profile. This alienation is taken a

step further in Self-portrait in Mirror, Yellow Roses, c. 1976

(no. 255), which at first glance seems to be a still-life. The

small mirror allows a partial view of her face, an eye,

the nose and part of the mouth, which appears younger

than her age would suggest. In her penchant for mirrors

Motesiczky may have been inspired by Max Beckmann

who also frequently depicted them. Yet, in contrast to

Self-portrait with Comb or At the Dressmakers, his mirrors

only occasionally show no reflection.

Another, very small group of self-portraits presents

Motesiczky in her profession as an artist. Motesiczky

tackled this traditional subject matter very rarely. Only

a handful of paintings testify to her being a painter. In

Self-portrait in Blue, 1964 (no. 195), she balances an open

sketchbook in her lap and holds a pink crayon which she

uses for drawing. The lack of professional attire that might

give rise to doubts about her seriousness as a draughtswoman

is rectified in Self-portrait with Palette, 1960 (no.

168), which unmistakably characterizes her as a painter

with all the attributes of the trade. Wearing an artist’s

smock and a cap and holding a large palette, she stands

by the easel and is in the process of painting a bird. This

creature, on the other hand, refers to another fruit of

Motesiczky’s artistic labours, The Old Song, 1959 (no. 158),

in which it figures prominently. In contrast, Lorette in

the Studio, 1968 (no. 219), presents a scene in a crowded

studio where two painters are in the process of painting a

model. Here, however, the model takes centre stage while

Motesiczky, sitting at her easel, is only partially visible.

Finally, in Hampstead Garden, c. 1970 (no. 242), Motesiczky

and her easel are almost completely hidden by a row of

bushes while the girl on the space-hopper, on whose

picture she is working, occupies the foreground.

A number of further self-portraits highlight Motesiczky’s

relationships with a select number of close friends, for

example Oskar Kokoschka (Two Women and a Shadow, 1951,

no. 109) and Elias Canetti (In the Garden, 1948, no. 81, and

Self-portrait with Canetti, 1960s, no. 237). Perhaps surprisingly,

apart from The Short Trip, 1965 (no. 204), in which the

artist herself is hardly recognizable, there are no paintings

showing Motesiczky together with her mother. She had

once, in the early stages of the conception of The Old Song,

considered such a composition, but she soon discarded the


marie-louise von motesiczky ’ s oeuvre

Fig. 40 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky photographing her reflection in

a window, photograph, 1963 (Motesiczky archive)


idea. Many sketches and drawings also record ideas for

compositions that unite the two women. However, they

were never carried out as paintings and Motesiczky

instead concentrated on portraits of her mother alone.

The portraits of Henriette von Motesiczky play a unique

role in Motesiczky’s oeuvre. It is generally agreed that they

must be counted among the very best examples of portraiture.

For one admirer, this series of paintings is ‘the

most original, deepest and most coherent contribution

among your paintings to the art of the twentieth century’. 288

He further confessed to ‘know no other cycle of works

in the history of modern painting in this field that is so

innovative, tackled with such courage and solved with such

artistic mastery’. 289 Elias Canetti once told Motesiczky that

the legendary series of mother portraits ‘is your greatest,

truest work … for whose sake your painting will always

survive’. 290 Motesiczky herself considered the paintings of

her mother her most important achievement and wanted

to make sure they did not disappear from public view

after her death.

Motesiczky’s paintings of her mother are characterized

by penetrating sympathy for her model and unbiased

observation. They go beyond the portrait by summing up

a main part of Motesiczky’s life and testifying to the lasting

and loving relationship between mother and daughter.

Apart from the portraits in oil there are an enormous

number of sketches and drawings in which she attempted

to record her mother’s every pose, expression and idiosyncrasy.

The series was created over a period of fifty years,

with the earliest, Henriette von Motesiczky – Portrait No. 1,

dating from 1929 (no. 29) and the last painted posthumously

(The Greenhouse, 1979, no. 266). The majority of these

portraits were created in the 1960s and 1970s when mother

and daughter shared a house. Motesiczky combined her

duty of looking after her ailing mother and the necessity

to create new works by using her as a frequent model.

The portraits of Henriette von Motesiczky allow a rare

glimpse of her personal circumstances and predilections.

Throughout her life, Henriette had been extremely fond

of the countryside, revelling in outdoor activities such as

riding and hunting. An early drawing, Hunting, 1936 (p. 534),

shows her indulging in her passion. She was, however,

equally partial to taking rests, even when younger, as

several portraits prove. In Henriette von Motesiczky – Portrait

No. 1, 1929, she typically reclines in bed. In another early

drawing, the intimate Siesta, 1933 (p. 530), she takes an

afternoon nap. With her advancing years, Henriette found

it increasingly difficult to move around unaided. In the

later portraits she is therefore presented in a limited

number of activities in her immediate surroundings. Many

of these paintings depict her spending a large part of her

life in bed. In several others she sits comfortably in a chair,

following another masculine passion, smoking a pipe, as

in the statuesque Henriette von Motesiczky, 1959 (no. 160),

or partaking of small meals (Henriette von Motesiczky with

Dog and Flowers, 1967, no. 213, and Mother in Green Dressing

Gown, 1975, no. 250). She was mainly confined to enjoying

the tranquillity of her own garden, where she took a little

exercise and went for short walks, depicted in The Way,

1967 (no. 216), or Mother in the Garden, 1975 (no. 248). In The

Short Trip, 1965 (no. 204), she is seen driving an invalid car,

of which, over the years, she possessed several models.

Henriette, who was actually notorious among the residents

of Hampstead for her dangerous driving, is here taking

a brief ride on her lawn. She also liked to help out in the

garden, performing little tasks like weeding or raking

leaves (The Greenhouse, 1979). Henriette M., 1961 (no. 177), in

which she forlornly looks out of the window that appears

to be closing in on her, sums up the old woman’s sadness

at the restrictions in her freedom.

Some of the portraits were painted with a specific story

in mind. The most striking example is The Old Song, 1959,

which speaks not only of Henriette’s passionate curiosity

for news of the outside world but also of the personal

tragedy of the harpist’s failed marriage – represented by

the ugly bird, the husband, who spoils the music. In many

portraits Henriette is accompanied by one of her beloved

Italian greyhounds, of which she had three over the years,

named Franzi, Bubi and Maxi. The faithful dogs attempt to

join in every activity, taking exercise in the garden, begging

for food, and slipping under the duvet to take a nap.

The series of mother paintings is most outstanding

for its ‘extraordinary love of truth and a tendency to exaggerate

all that embodies the opposite of general concepts

of beauty’. 291 With her affectionate mercilessness and

unsparing, often brutal honesty Motesiczky makes no

attempts to hide her mother’s less than ideal figure and

lack of conventional beauty. She even highlights her

shortcomings, including the lack of hair to which she had

grown accustomed. Henriette had in fact lost her hair very

early on and over the years employed various means of

disguising this. Her use of a turban is documented in

Portrait with Turban, 1946 (no. 80). Several portraits show

her wearing a wig, for example Reclining Woman with Pipe,

1954 (no. 129), Henriette von Motesiczky, 1959, and Henriette

M., 1961. In The Old Song, 1959, Henriette von Motesiczky,


marie-louise von motesiczky ’ s oeuvre

now in her seventies, has a balding head with only a few

grey wisps of hair left. In her old age she no longer bothered

to hide her baldness when sitting for a portrait. In

Mother with Baton, 1977 (no. 257), her remaining hair is held

together in a thin, short ponytail. Here, and in several

other portraits, the indication of a slight moustache

suggests the growth of unwanted hair.

Accompanying Henriette von Motesiczky’s final years,

the mother portraits are the extremely moving record of

physical decline into extreme old age. In her final years

the formerly rather robust Henriette became ‘thin . . . like

a ghost’. 292 Despite her ailments she showed immense

courage. Motesiczky praised her: ‘So brave, like a soldier.

Never ever a complaint.’ 293 The late portraits, such as

From Night into Day, 1975 (no. 251), and Mother with Baton,

manage to convey the fragility of the emaciated body,

highlighting arms that are thin like sticks and emphasizing

the now even more pronounced characteristic facial

features of a bulbous nose and large, dark sunken eyes.

Mother in Bed, c. 1977/8 (no. 259), executed in the last year of

Henriette’s life, shows her noticeably near death. Devoid of

hair she conveys a strangely asexual quality. Omitting any

paraphernalia Motesiczky focuses on the familiar face in

the knowledge that she is painting her for one last time.



1 Motesiczky 1985, p. 11.

2 Motesiczky’s biography is based on material from the

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London,

whose archives contain the artist’s writings, letters,

photographs, drawings and paintings. On the Lieben

family see: Arnbom 2003, pp. 177–208; Die Liebens,

exh. cat. 2004, passim.

3 Prohibited by the Nazis, the Ignaz-Lieben-Preis was last

awarded in 1937. In 2004 it was reinstated by the American

businessman Alfred Bader who was born in Vienna.

4 On Anna von Lieben’s role in the creation of

psychoanalysis see for example Swales 1986.

5 Freud 1986, p. 243.

6 Freud/Breuer 1978, pp. 127 f., 134 f., 248–55.

7 Ibid., p. 135.

8 Lieben 1901.

9 Arnbom 2003, p. 189.

10 Henriette von Motesiczky included an account of this

brief relationship in her unpublished typescript

Erinnerungen, dated October 1966: Motesiczky archive.

11 Zeitreisen, Radio Bremen 2, 13 July 1991.

12 Zeitgenossen, Südwestfunk 2, 2 August 1987.

13 ‘nie aus dem Paradies ausgetrieben worden ist’:

Menschenbilder, Ö1, 23 February 1986.

14 The information on Edmund von Motesiczky has been

taken from Menschenbilder, Ö1, 23 February 1986; Peter

Swales to his colleagues, 8 January 1980: copy in the

Motesiczky archive; Gaugusch 2004, p. 233.

15 ‘voll Anerkennung für ein Genie auf der einen Seite

und Gentleman auf der anderen’: Wolfgang J. Magg

to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 29 November 1966:

Motesiczky archive.

16 Undated manuscript by Marie-Louise von Motesiczky:

Motesiczky archive.

17 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti,

13 March 1954; undated autobiographical typescript by

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky: Motesiczky archive.

18 His collection is documented in Falke 1930.

19 Zeitreisen, Radio Bremen 2, 13 July 1991.

20 ‘zweite Mutter’: Menschenbilder, Ö1, 23 February 1986.

21 ‘dieser beste Mensch, den Du je gekannt hast’: Elias

Canetti to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 6 September

1987: Motesiczky archive.

22 ‘gütige, lustige, unschuldige, ständig arbeitende,

wunderbare Frau’: Menschenbilder, Ö1, 23 February 1986.

23 Zeitreisen, Radio Bremen 2, 13 July 1991.

24 ‘ganz unmögliche Hauslehrer’: Zeitgenossen,

Südwestfunk 2, 2 August 1987.

25 Ibid.

26 Jahreszeugnis Öffentliches Mariahilfer Mädchenlyzeum,

Linke Wienzeile 4, Vienna: Motesiczky archive.

27 ‘Das macht nichts, dann geh halt nicht mehr in die

Schule.’: Zeitgenossen, Südwestfunk 2, 2 August 1987.

28 Motesiczky 1985, p. 11; Zeitgenossen, Südwestfunk 2,

2 August 1987.

29 Motesiczky 1984, p. 52.

30 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Sophie Brentano,

undated: Motesiczky archive.

31 Motesiczky 1985, p. 11.

32 ‘eine sehr tragische, sonderbare Sache’: Menschenbilder,

Ö1, 23 February 1986.

33 ‘hat man halt noch nie gesehen gehabt, so ein Licht’:

Zeitgenossen, Südwestfunk 2, 2 August 1987. Motesiczky

probably refers to Bridge at Arles (Pont de Langlois), 1888,

which is now in the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo.

34 Zeitreisen, Radio Bremen 2, 13 July 1991.

35 Motesiczky 1985, p. 11.

36 ‘In diesen 3 Monaten intensiven Zeichnens vor allen in

Kohle und Pastell beschloss ich dass dies mein Leben

werden soll. Dem Ernst mit dem C.M. uns zur Arbeit

anhielt … habe ich viel zu verdanken Die erste Sache

dies sie wirklich lobte war eine Skitze von einem kleinen

dreckigen Gassen Bübchen so ein 5 Jahriger etwas. Ich

dachte es sei nicht viel, weil es so schnell gehen musste

und keine Zeit war es auzuführen. Siehst du da hast

Du das wesentliche getroffen das ist gerade gut. Ich

freute mich und dacht aber so kann man’s auch

machen’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, diary entry

for 14 November 1980: Motesiczky archive.

37 ‘Eines ist sicher . . . daß diese 3 Monate ein Anfang

waren zu einem neuen Leben’: Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky to Henriette von Motesiczky, [26 June 1922]:

Motesiczky archive.

38 Du bist gesund, und jung, und reich, und schön,

Begleitet könnt’st Du oft nach Hause gehn!

Du hast Talent – vielleicht sogar Genie –

Viel Temp’rament und etwas Phantasie . . .

Du wirst verwöhnt und jeder hat Dich gern,

Es huld’gen Dir die allerhöchten Herrn: . . .

Was willst Du mehr?! – Denk an Punkt: 1–10

Und lass die Traurigkeit im Winkel stehn!

A photograph of the poem, which is now part of

a private collection, is in the Motesiczky archive.

39 ‘wohl die klügste Frau, die ich kenne, meine einzige

Freundin’: Käthe von Porada to Peter Zingler, 24 April

1974: Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Max

Beckmann Archiv, Munich.

40 Motesiczky 1985, p. 11.

41 ‘Wenn ich nun sagen würde ich will Malerin werden so

würde das heißen Künstlerin werden. Dieses kann man

aber nie werden sondern nur sein o. nicht sein. Doch

daß das Erfassen der Erscheinung u. das Verarbeiten

der Eindrücke jahrelange Übung u. das erlernen

des Ausdrucksvermögens höchste Willenskraft u.

Konzentration erfordert ist mir immer völlig klar

gewesen.’: undated, handwritten note by Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky: Motesiczky archive.

42 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Henriette von

Motesiczky, [1924]: Motesiczky archive.

43 Motesiczky 1985, p. 12.

44 Ibid., p. 11.

45 ‘bildhübsch’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Henriette

von Motesiczky, [8 July 1922]: Motesiczky archive.

46 Quappi Beckmann to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

14 February 1951: Motesiczky archive.

47 Beckmann 2000, pp. 9 f., 12.

48 Zeitreisen, Radio Bremen 2, 13 July 1991.

49 Motesiczky 1985, p. 12.

50 Ibid.

51 Max Beckmann als Lehrer was first given as a lecture at

the annual meeting of the Max Beckmann Gesellschaft

in Murnau in 1963 and subsequently published in the

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Motesiczky 1964) and,

in English translation, as Motesiczky 1984.

52 Zeitreisen, Radio Bremen 2, 13 July 1991.

53 Motesiczky 1984, p. 52.

54 Ibid., p. 51.

55 ‘Dank für die Photos. Alle Achtung. Nur so weiter. Es

ist viel ernsthafte Arbeit darin. Nur jetzt Stange halten!!’:

Max Beckmann to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

12 February [1926], reprinted in Beckmann 1994, p. 31.

56 ‘Im übrigen habe ich dem Becki Photos von meinen

Sachen gezeigt u. er war ganz zufrieden – hab

Fortschritte gemacht sagt er – Du weisst dass ich darüber

guter Laune bin!!’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to

Henriette von Motesiczky, 17 March 1930 (postmark):

Motesiczky archive.

57 Motesiczky 1984, p. 52.

58 ‘traumhafte Lyrik’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias

Canetti, 14 August 1947 (postmark): Motesiczky archive.

59 ‘Verflucht noch mal Pizchen, Sie haben doch wirklich ein

schönes Talent, malen Sie ein paar gute Bilder und die

Welt wird wieder schön’: Max Beckmann to Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky, 15 January 1949, reprinted in Beckmann

1996, pp. 237 f.

60 ‘Ich wünschte ich hätte viel Geld, dann würde ich Sie

heiraten und Sie dürften sich 2 Geliebte halten zum

Entsetzen aller Ihrer Tanten und Verwandten.’:

Karl Tratt to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 30 May 1933:

Motesiczky archive.

61 ‘Das Bild finde ich recht interessant. Bringen Sie’s

doch mit, wenn’s geht, damit Sie’s nächstes Jahr mit

ausstellen können.’: Max Beckmann to Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky, end September 1927, reprinted in

Beckmann 1994, p. 100.

62 ‘Erzieherisch ist jede Reibung mit der Aussenwelt, daher

auch die mit der Kritik’: Max Beckmann. Über den Wert

der Kritik (Eine Rundfrage an die Künstler), 1912, quoted

in Göpel/Göpel 1976, vol. 2, p. 3.

63 ‘Sie müssen einschicken . . . sonst laufen Sie immer

hinterm Leben nach.’: Menschenbilder, Ö1, 23 February


64 Yapou 1944.

65 ‘Der äußere Erfolg war ihr immer unwichtig’:

Anonymous [Victor Matejka] 1966.

66 ‘Gott schick mir Kinder wenn’s auch nur Bilder sind’:

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, diary entry for 6 February

1955: Motesiczky archive.


67 Alec Guinness to Anne Kaufman-Schneider, 19 August

1986, kindly made available by Piers Paul Read.

68 Linda de Vriess to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

16 November [1986]: Motesiczky archive.

69 Alec Guinness, diary entry for 4 June 1987, kindly made

available by Piers Paul Read.

70 ‘Das arme Pizchen ist sehr verzweifelt über Berlin und

hat schwer zu kämpfen. – Trotzdem ist es gut für Sie.’:

Max Beckmann to Quappi Beckmann, 27 November

1928, reprinted in Beckmann 1994, p. 133.

71 ‘ich gehe zugrund, Haushalt, Haushalt, Haushalt!!’:

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Henriette von

Motesiczky, [1928/9]: Motesiczky archive.

72 ‘Denke nur wie schwer es ist gute Bilder zu malen,

Fortschritte zu mach etwas zu werden, denke an die

Sängerinnen von 100 wird eine etwas u die Malerinnen!!

Alle 100 Jahre wird aus einer etwas!! Darum ist es schwer

denn selbst wenn man nichts besonderes ist braucht das

Kraft u. Ausdauer halbwegs gute Arbeiten zu machen . . .

Das merkwürdige ist das, obwohl sich das Leben bisher

als eine interessante aber recht zweifelhafte Dame

erwiesen hat, ich noch immer das Wunder (im algemeinen)

erwarte oder wie man hier so schön sagt mir

die Zigaretten an den Sternen anzünden möchte.’:

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Henriette von

Motesiczky, [1928/9]: Motesiczky archive.

73 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Henriette von

Motesiczky, [1929]: Motesiczky archive.

74 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti,

4 May 1956: Motesiczky archive.

75 Wolfgang Paalen to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

7 January 1958: Motesiczky archive.

76 Hanuschek 2005, p. 433.

77 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Henriette von

Motesiczky, [1929]: Motesiczky archive.

78 ‘Sei nicht traurig u. unruhig, wegen Arbeit u. so. Wenn

ich so gute Anlage von Natur zum Malen hätte, wie Sie,

wäre ich fröhlicher.’: Siegfried Sebba to Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky, [1929]: Motesiczky archive.

79 In connection with a pregnancy she must have consulted

the eminent gynaecologist Professor Bernhard Zondek

whose invoice for 500 Marks, dated 15 April 1929,

survived in the artist’s estate. Motesiczky’s correspondence

with Siegfried Sebba and Irma Simon also hints

at an abortion.

80 ‘das populärste Bild des modernen Israel’: Gabler 1981,

p. 70.

81 Lebhafte Erinnerung (für Marialouise von Motesiczky)

Der erschauernde Birkenwald, abweisend-gewährendes


der Hof stand gegen den Himmel braun und die

Schneezungen weiss am Berg,

der Knabe lief stolpernd in Ängsten und Freuden,

in Sonne erstrahlte das Schöpfungswerk,

die Gipfel zerteilten die Wolken, der Wind trug


(Motesiczky archive)

82 ‘beinahe hätten wir uns geheiratet’: Benno Reifenberg

to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 22 November 1965:

Motesiczky archive.

83 ‘du bist mir lieber Überfluss, notwendiger Luxus, – mehr

als mir zukommt. Mein Glück (ehelich) ist vollkommen –

und doch fehlst Du, es fehlt was, wenn Du weg bist. Ich

habe an meiner Frau alles, – Du bist das Mehr, – mir

fehlt das Mehr.’: Lajos Hatvany to Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky, [1926]: Motesiczky archive.

84 ‘Mit Ausnahme einiger Lichtpunkte, die zu beschreiben

mir Deine Bescheidenheit verbietet, denke ich mit

Schaudern an die Wiener Jahre. Das Exil war eine

grosse Krankheit’: Lajos Hatvany to Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky, 17 September 1929: Motesiczky archive.

85 ‘Du bist wirklich ein süßes und seltenes Wesen. Ich . . .

bin dumm genug, es Dir schwarz auf weiß zu geben:

daß ich vielleicht nie noch so ehrlich in jemanden

verliebt war wie ich es jetzt für Dich empfinde.’: Herbert

Schey to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 6 August 1937:

Motesiczky archive.

86 ‘anmassenden u. selbstsicheren Bande’, ‘Teufeln’:

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti,

[after 1945]: Motesiczky archive.

87 On the Hagenbund see Die verlorene Moderne,

exh. cat. 1993.

88 Born 1933.

89 ‘während Maria Motesiczky sich im Format und in der

Komposition Blößen gibt und sich bedenklich dem

Kitsche nähert’: tr. 1933.

90 ‘Noch wären rühmlich anzureihen . . . M. L. Motesiecky’:

F. 1933.

91 Heimito von Doderer: Lebhafte Erinnerung, poem,

dated 1928: Motesiczky archive.

92 Elias Canetti to Viktor Matejka, 14 October 1967:

Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen

Widerstandes, Vienna, Nr. 18861/22. I thank Christiane

Rothländer for this information.

93 Ibid.

94 Jill Lloyd in conversation with Gian Carlo Menotti,

23 June 2002: Motesiczky archive.

95 Henriette von Motesiczky to Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky, 25 October 1926: Motesiczky archive.

96 Henk de Waal to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

12 March 1935: Motesiczky archive.

97 Motesiczky archive.

98 Motesiczky archive.

99 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Wilhelm Reich, [1934]:

Motesiczky archive.

100 R.V. Bakker to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 14 March

1935: Motesiczky archive.

101 ‘denn Tante Ilse hätte jetzt sicher so vielen Menschen

zu helfen die es mehr brauchen’: Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky to Sophie Brentano, undated: Motesiczky


102 Motesiczky 1985, p. 13.

103 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Sophie Brentano,

undated: Motesiczky archive.

104 This episode is recounted in numerous undated letters

from Motesiczky to Sophie Brentano (Motesiczky

archive), see also Beckmann 2000, p. 29.

105 Beckmann 1979.

106 ‘verzweifelte Gedanken an B.’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

diary entry for 23 February 1945: Motesiczky archive.

107 ‘Beckmann lebt!’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, diary

entry for 22 June 1945: Motesiczky archive.

108 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, diary entries for 3, 7 and

10 August 1945: Motesiczky archive.

109 Menschenbilder, Ö1, 23 February 1986. On Karl von

Motesiczky see Christiane Rothländer, especially 2004a.

110 ‘bis aufs äußerste ausgebeutet’: Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky, undated autobiographical typescript:

Motesiczky archive.

111 Adunka 1994.

112 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Sophie Brentano,

undated: Motesiczky archive.

113 Veth 1939.

114 A.d.B. 1939; Anonymous [1939].

115 Handwritten note by Marie-Louise von Motesiczky on

Veth 1939: Motesiczky archive.

116 Motesiczky 1985, p. 13.

117 Karl von Motesiczky to Henriette von Motesiczky,

[October 1938]: Motesiczky archive. The painting is

probably identical with Versuchung eines Heiligen of the

Danubian School, which was confiscated after Karl von

Motesiczky’s arrest. It was sold at an auction at the

Dorotheum, Vienna, on 19 October 1943 for RM 14,300.

In 1949, when the painting was in the possession of the

Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen in Munich,

Henriette von Motesiczky tracked it down (I thank

Evelyn Adunka for this information). It was subsequently

returned to her.

118 Canetti 2005a, p. 25.

119 ‘das war dann eigentlich zum Teil eine sehr schöne

Zeit, so verrückt das klingt’: transcript of a BBC radio

programme, 1988, details unknown: Motesiczky archive.

120 See Hanuschek 2005 and Schlenker 2005 for more

information on the relationship between Canetti and


121 Elias Canetti to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

28 November 1974: Motesiczky archive.

122 Canetti 2005a, pp. 32–47.

123 Canetti 2001, pp. 197–204.

124 Zeitreisen, Radio Bremen 2, 13 July 1991.

125 Elias Canetti’s Aufzeichnungen für Marie-Louise were

published in 2005 by Hanser Verlag (with an afterword

by Jeremy Adler).

126 ‘persönliche Katastrophe’: Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky to Sophie Brentano, 8 November 1974:

Motesiczky archive.

127 Menschenbilder, Ö1, 23 February 1986. See also

Gaisbauer/Janisch 1992, p. 173.

128 ‘ganz ohne C. Welt ohne Sinn – mit C endlose

Quälerei.’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, diary entry

for summer 1977: Motesiczky archive.

129 To be published soon by Hanser Verlag.

130 ‘Mein Roman “The Response” ist der Malerin Marie-

Luise Motesizky gewidmet. Denn der leise Zauber, der

von ihr ausgeht, hat mich zu einer Figur angeregt und

ihre Feinheit hat meine Wildheit gebändigt und die

Figuren und die Musik meines Buches bestimmt.’:

undated note by Veza Canetti: Motesiczky archive.

131 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Sophie Brentano,

[after 1977]: Motesiczky archive.

132 ‘verbunden sein wirst solange es Menschen gibt’:

Elias Canetti to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, [1956]:

Motesiczky archive.

133 Zeitreisen, Radio Bremen 2, 13 July 1991.

134 ‘Du bist ein sehr grosser Maler und ob Du es willst oder

nicht, die Welt wird es erfahren. Jedes Bild, das Du noch

malst, wird in die Geschichte der Malerei eingehen.’:

Elias Canetti to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 20 July

1978: Motesiczky archive.

135 Zeitgenossen, Südwestfunk 2, 2 August 1987.

136 Henriette von Motesiczky to Käthe von Porada,

14 November 1969: Motesiczky archive.

137 Zeitgenossen, Südwestfunk 2, 2 August 1987.

138 ‘adoptiert’: Menschenbilder, Ö1, 23 February 1986.

139 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Benno Reifenberg,

17 January 1964: Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach,

Estate Benno Reifenberg.

140 Zeitgenossen, Südwestfunk 2, 2 August 1987.

141 ‘Es ist Frieden . . . Kokoschkas erscheinen. O.K. ist

scheusslich mit meinem Bild v. Mutter.’: Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky, diary entry for 8 May 1945: Motesiczky


142 ‘hoffnungslos’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, diary

entry for 17 June 1945: Motesiczky archive.

143 ‘Nicht anrühren!’: Zeitgenossen, Südwestfunk 2,

2 August 1987.

144 ‘Zeichnung Olda, K, ich’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

diary entry for 25 June 1945: Motesiczky archive.

145 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti, [1940s]:

Motesiczky archive.

146 Interview with Georgette Lewinson, 15 May 2000.

147 Murdoch 1988, pp. 536 f.

148 Elias Canetti, handwritten note, [1944]: Motesiczky


149 Newton 1944.

150 Yapou 1944.


151 John Rothenstein to Oskar Kokoschka, 16 October 1944:

Motesiczky archive.

152 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti,

1 November 1960: Motesiczky archive.

153 ‘quasi in Einzelhaft’: Renée Cushman to Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky, 27 February 1957: Motesiczky archive.

154 Engelman 1952.

155 Veth 1952.

156 Braat 1952.

157 ‘lyrisch en zacht’: Prange 1952.

158 Filarski 1952a.

159 Braat 1952.

160 M.B. 1952; see also Buys 1952, Filarski 1952a,

Gruyter 1952, Prange 1952.

161 Anonymous 1952a.

162 ‘essenziell’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias

Canetti, 22 August 1954: Motesiczky archive.

163 Carwin 1954.

164 Certificate of Naturalization for Marie Louise

Motesiczky known as Motesiczka, dated 17 April 1948:

Motesiczky archive.

165 ‘der Kinder und Gerechtigkeit liebte’: Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky to Sophie Brentano, undated: Motesiczky


166 ‘größtes und schönstes europäisches SOS-Kinderdorf’:

Hermann Gmeiner to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

27 June 1978: Motesiczky archive.

167 The inscription is based on the dedication of a book

by Bruno Seidel, a friend of Karl von Motesiczky

(Industrialismus und Kapitalismus. Sozialethische und

institutionelle Wandlungen einer Wirtschaftsform,

Meisenheim/Glan 1955): ‘Für die selbstlose Hilfe, die er

Verfolgten gewährte, erlitt er im Konzentrationslager

Auschwitz selbst den Tod.’

168 Menschenbilder, Ö1, 23 February 1986.

169 ‘Wien ist so anregend für mich malerisch mir fallen so

viele Dinge ein – das hängt mit Jugenderinnerungen

zusammen . . . und trotzdem könnt ich mir denken dass

ich hier meine besten Bilder malen könnte einmal’:

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti,

4 May 1957: Motesiczky archive.

170 ‘ein kleines Paradies’: Elias Canetti to Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky, 27 July 1963: Motesiczky archive.

171 ‘die phantastische Biedermeier-Ruhe’: Elias Canetti to

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 24 February 1965:

Motesiczky archive.

172 Beatrice Owen to Jill Lloyd, 21 July 2000 (original in

capitals): Motesiczky archive.

173 Peter Verdemato to Ines Schlenker (e-mail), 9 July 2004:

Motesiczky archive.

174 In his autobiography Ernst Ginsberg recalls the hospitality

of the Motesiczky women when, in 1933, he arrived in

Vienna as a poor emigrant: Ginsberg 1965, pp. 135 f.

175 ‘Kennen Sie eigentlich Marie-Louise von Metesitzky?

Sie ist durchaus ungewöhnlich und sollten Sie ihr

noch nicht begegnet sein, so möchte ich das gern

arrangieren.’: Theodor W. Adorno to Ernst Krenek,

29 April 1935: Rogge 1974, p. 80.

176 Entry of 16 March 1961: ‘feierliches Du mit Piz’: Adorno.

Eine Bildmonographie, 2003, p. 255.

177 ‘Der Adorno weiss mir immer etwas nettes zu sagen

z.B. dass ich ein wunderbares Profil habe oder dass ich

das Wesen eines jungen Mädchens habe ohne dabei

zurückgeblieben zu sein. Trägt natürlich zur Erholung

bei!’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Henriette von

Motesiczky, 13 August 1961: Motesiczky archive.

178 Helen Lessore, exh. cat. 1994, p. 3.

179 ‘nie mehr mitspielen kann im Kunstbetrieb’: Marie-

Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti, 25 June 1964:

Motesiczky archive.

180 ‘Das ist wahrscheinlich der Canetti!’: interview with

Milein Cosman, 9 December 2004.

181 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, diary entry for

3 April 1953: Motesiczky archive.

182 On the relationship between Murdoch and Canetti

see Conradi 2001, pp. 405–33 and Hanuschek 2005,

pp. 402–4. See Schlenker 2001 for more on the portrait

of Iris Murdoch.

183 Iris Murdoch to the Principal of St Anne’s College, Oxford,

25 June [1963]: personal file, St Anne’s College, Oxford.

184 Iris Murdoch, unpublished diary entry for 16 February

[1964], kindly made available by Peter Conradi.

185 Fritz Novotny, Österreichische Galerie, Schloß Belvedere,

to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 15 June 1963 and

19 December 1963: Motesiczky archive.

186 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Benno Reifenberg,

1 September 1967: Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach,

Estate Benno Reifenberg.

187 Fleischer 1996, p. 528.

188 ‘Wunderbare Malerei, wie man sie leider so selten

sieht’; ‘Portraits meisterhaft!’; ‘Die Könnerschaft ist

bewundernswert! Besonders im Porträt!’; ‘Die Poesie

der Bilder entzückt’; ‘keine “Falschmünzerei”’; ‘diese

starke und reine Malerei, in der das Unaussprechliche

immer zu ahnen ist’: guest book for the exhibition

‘Marie-Louise Motesiczky’ at the Wiener Secession in

May 1966: Motesiczky archive.

189 ‘Eine fesselnde Überraschung’: b. 1966.

190 ‘hätte längst, ginge es immer mit rechten Dingen zu,

als eine unserer bedeutendsten Malerinnen gewürdigt

werden müssen’: Spiel 1966.

191 ‘die sich fast nie geändert, aber dauernd verfeinert hat’:

Vogel 1966b.

192 For example BA 1966, Baum 1966, Freundlich 1966 and

K.S. 1966.

193 ‘Im Schatten des Meisters’: K.S. 1966.

194 ‘Der Gewalt und Größe des Meisters nicht erlegen zu

sein, sich eine eigene Weltsicht – und eine eigene

Handschrift – erobert zu haben’: Freundlich 1966.

195 ‘Diese Begegnung mit Beckmann . . . prägte . . . in

einem derart fruchtbaren Maß Werk und Haltung der . . .

Malerin, wie man es sich idealer bei einem ähnlich

engen Lehrer-Schüler-Verhältnis kaum vorstellen

kann.’: Baum 1966.

196 ‘das Belvedere hat das allerkleinste Bild gekauft um

so eine kleine Summe, daß ich sie sofort in einer

Telefonzelle verloren hab’. Mein erstes verdientes

Geld . . . mit sechzig.’: Gaisbauer/Janisch 1992, p. 173.

197 ‘Du wirst der grosse deutsche Porträtist werden’, ‘das

Beste . . . was Du bis jetzt gemacht hast’: Elias Canetti

to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 1 October 1967:

Motesiczky archive.

198 ‘Piz hatte eine Ausstellung in München, wunderbare

Kritiken und auch Verkäufe. Sie war sehr zufrieden. Sie

hätte auch noch mehr verkaufen können, aber sie trennt

sich von manchen Bildern so schwer oder garnicht.’:

Henriette von Motesiczky to Käthe von Porada,

14 November 1967: Motesiczky archive.

199 Theo Garve to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, [after

November 1968]: Motesiczky archive.

200 d.w. 1968.

201 ‘Max hat nicht umsonst an Dich geglaubt, vergiss das

nicht!’: Quappi Beckmann to Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky, 6 January 1969: Motesiczky archive.

202 ‘Ich bin (vielleicht zu unrecht) zuversichtlicher wie in

Wien – vielleicht weil ich ganz gut arbeite die letzte

Zeit aber vielleicht auch weil ich mich seit Wien an

den beängstigenden Zustand der “Ausstellerei” etwas

gewöhnt habe.’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to

Benno Reifenberg, 1 September 1967: Deutsches

Literaturarchiv, Marbach, Estate Benno Reifenberg.

203 ‘noch bedeutend kleiner als sonst’: Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky to Theo Garve, 23 November 1968:

Motesiczky archive.

204 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Benno Reifenberg,

11 January 1969: Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach,

Estate Benno Reifenberg.

205 Ibid.

206 ‘Mutter leider oft sehr schwierig Geduld Geduld ich

muss sie lieben so lange sie da ist. Kräfte, Kräfte oh bitte

Kräfte für das neue Jahr’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

diary entry for autumn 1977: Motesiczky archive.

207 Vaizey 1985.

208 Gombrich 1985, p. 7.

209 ‘Verstoß gegen das göttliche Vierte Gebot: “Du sollst

Vater und Mutter ehren!”’: Ernst Jahoda to Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky, 1 July 1986: Motesiczky archive.

210 Clark 1994.

211 Zeitgenossen, Südwestfunk 2, 2 August 1987; Tate Gallery,

1996, p. 504.

212 ‘eigenen Worte habe ihr “den Segen” gegeben’:

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, diary entry for spring 1978:

Motesiczky archive.

213 Interview with Victor de Waal, 23 January 2002.

214 ‘Die ersten Schritte eines Neugeborenen allein auf der

Welt’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, diary entry for

summer 1978: Motesiczky archive.

215 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Quappi Beckmann,

8 April 1980: Motesiczky archive.

216 Elias Canetti to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

27 February 1974: Motesiczky archive.

217 ‘Langsam, ganz langsam senkt sich die Waage mit Ihnen

und der Frau und dem Kindchen und meine Schale ist

zu leicht’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti,

November [1973]: Motesiczky archive.

218 Allerton Cushman to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

22 December 1981: Motesiczky archive.

219 ‘Royal Acad. abgelehnt’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

diary entry for summer 1977: Motesiczky archive.

220 ‘hervorragender Anreger junger Talente’: Vogt 1980,


221 ‘eine außerordentlich starke Resonanz bei der Frankfurter

Bevölkerung’: Kurt Lotz, Magistrat der Stadt Frankfurt,

Amt für Wissenschaft und Kunst, to Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky, 18 December 1980: Motesiczky archive.

222 Gombrich 1985, p. 6.

223 Ibid., p. 7.

224 Vaizey 1985.

225 Taylor 1985.

226 Berryman 1985.

227 José Eckhard to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

19 July 1986: Motesiczky archive.

228 ‘Es ist einfach wunderbar, die Bilder selbst haben ihre

Wirkung getan, spät, aber noch zur Zeit, ist der Maler

Mulo erkannt und anerkannt worden. Ich bin sehr

glücklich, das noch zu erleben, gewusst habe ich’s immer

und in keiner Sekunde, was immer sonst zwischen uns

geschah, habe ich den Glauben an Ihre Malerei verloren.

Sie haben es immer gewusst und etwas von meiner

Glaubenskraft ist auch auf den Maler übergegangen.

Aber das alles ist nicht mehr so wichtig, denn jetzt sind

die Bilder da und werden nie mehr verschwinden. Es gibt

wenige Dinge, die so gerecht erscheinen . . . Der Maler

Mulo existiert und wird nun immer existieren! Ich glaube

nicht, dass das je vorher schon passiert ist: dass ein

Maler mit 80 noch zu Lebzeiten entdeckt wurde. Es ist

also auch als Vorgang etwas Einzigartiges.’: Elias Canetti

to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 1 January 1986:

Motesiczky archive.

229 ‘Märchen’: Menschenbilder, Ö1, 23 February 1986.

230 Zeitgenossen, Südwestfunk 2, 2 August 1987.

231 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Simon Jervis,

13 July 1993: Motesiczky archive.

232 Dobson 1986, unpaginated.

233 Emigré Artists, exh. cat. 1987, unpaginated.

234 ‘Sie sind Jude? – Ja – sagt er – ich auch – sage ich – und

70 notes

der Kontakt ist hergestellt’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky

to Elias Canetti, 19 March 1958: Motesiczky archive.

235 Motesiczky archive. I am grateful to Jeremy Adler for his

comments on Motesiczky’s attitude to Judaism.

236 ‘Ich hatte spat, mit 80 meinen ersten wirklichen Erfolg.

Das heisst aber nicht dass mein Name gefestigt ist – dass

ich wirkliche Preise habe – man muss viele Ausstellungen

habe ein Buch müsste existieren u.s.w. da werde ich so

wie so nicht mehr erleben. Mein Euvre ist klein, ich gab

viel Zeit meiner Mutter. Jedes Bild zählt . . . Es geht mir

einzig darum dass das was ich mit aller meiner Kraft in

60 Jahren versucht hab nicht verschwindet und ach “das

Bild” im übertragenen Sinne – meiner Mutter bleibt.

Die Bilder sind sinnlos wenn sie nicht gezeigt werden

können . . . Es geht mir darum das die Bilder weiter

leben, auch körperlich – das Menschen sie sehen können

– dass sie nicht verschwinden in Küchen Vorzimmern

Kellern schliesslich auf Trödelmarkten. Leider sind

Museen das einzige wo sie sicher sein können. Ich

brauche das nicht zu erleben, aber ich wollte dass ihre

Zukunft gesichert ist wie andere Leute es für ihre Kinder

wollen.’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Kurt Noll,

[1987?]: Motesiczky archive.

237 Kruntorad 1994.

238 Carole Angier to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

22 August 1994: Motesiczky archive.

239 Motesiczky archive.

240 ‘es ist wunderbar, eine solche Gabe zu haben’: Elias

Canetti to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 1 September

1971: Motesiczky archive.

241 Motesiczky 1984, p. 52.

242 Ibid.

243 ‘Künstlerisch schadet Dir der manirierte Beckmann

ganz sicher. Lass Dir das vom alten Juden, – der im

übrigen B. recht gern hat! – sagen.’: Lajos Hatvany

to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, [1929]: Motesiczky


244 Zeitgenossen, Südwestfunk 2, 2 August 1987.

245 Mullaly 1960.

246 Taylor 1985.

247 Gombrich 1985, p. 7.

248 Hoffmann 1949, p. 67.

249 ‘Es muss schwer gewesen sein, sich eines so starken

Einflusses wie dem von Beckmann zu erwehren und

zu einer eigenen Form zu kommen. Wenn ich es

recht überlege, so sind Sie die einzige Schülerin von

Beckmann, der es gelungen ist, den Einfluss zu

verarbeiten und eine selbständige Künstlerin zu bleiben,

und das will viel sagen.’: Erhard Göpel to Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky, 13 May 1966: Motesiczky archive.

250 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti, 22 August

1954: Motesiczky archive.

251 Menschenbilder, Ö1, 23 February 1986.

252 ‘das Bild weiter malt’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to

Benno Reifenberg, 11 January 1969; see also Jan Willem

Salomonson to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 6 August

1992: Motesiczky archive.

253 Interview with Barbara Price, 22 January 2004.

254 Plakolm-Forsthuber 1994, p. 193 already remarked

on this.

255 Miriam Lane [Rothschild] to Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky, [spring 1969]: Motesiczky archive.

256 ‘Also nun sei nicht verzweifelt oder vielmehr zweifle

nicht an Dir selber – es ist nicht wahr – es liegt nicht an

Deinen Bildern!! Denke daran was Becki Dir sagte!!’:

Quappi Beckmann to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

7 June 1951: Motesiczky archive.

257 ‘ohne die ich mir das Leben überhaupt nicht vorstellen

kann’: Elias Canetti to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

3 May 1966: Motesiczky archive.

258 ‘Ich weiss doch dass meine Sachen jetzt nichts wert

sind. (obwohl ich mehr an’s malen glaube denn je.)’:

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Sophie Brentano,

[c. 1977]: Motesiczky archive.

259 Hoffmann 1949, p. 67.

260 ‘Die Parks sind so schön! und die Museen after all’:

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Theo Garve, 7 February

1966: kindly made available by Gerda Garve.

261 ‘Ich bin halt da . . . Die Sprache ist schon ein Nachteil

für mich. Aber Emigrant . . . in dem Sinn, daß mir hier

irgendein Unrecht geschehen ist – überhaupt nicht.’:

Menschenbilder, Ö1, 23 February 1986.

262 ‘Wir sind hier in Hampstead eine absolut deutsch

sprechende Insel Sie würden überhaupt nicht merken

dass Sie in England sind.’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky

to Theo Garve, 7 February 1966: kindly made available

by Gerda Garve.

263 Motesiczky 1985, p. 13.

264 ‘Ich muss nach der Natur malen meistens jedenfalls –

aber im Verlauf des Bildes muss ich frei erfinden

können Da kann noch eine Geschichte entstehen . . .

Geschichten beflügeln die Augen.’: Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky, diary entry for 18 October 1980:

Motesiczky archive.

265 ‘Sie können noch Geschichten erzählen!’: Anonymous

[Victor Matejka] 1966.

266 Hodin 1961/2, p. 19.

267 Anonymous [Victor Matejka] 1966.

268 Black 1996.

269 See for example Morning in the Garden, 1943 (no. 61),

In the Garden, 1948 (no. 81), Garden in the Summer, 1960

(no. 169), Hampstead Garden, c. 1970 (no. 242), and

The Greenhouse, 1979 (no. 266).

270 Michael Karplus to Ines Schlenker (e-mail), 15 July 2004:

Motesiczky archive.

271 See for example Newton 1944, Hart 1966, Helfgott 1966.

272 Gombrich 1985, p. 7.

273 Newton 1944.

274 Ibid.; Hodin 1961/2, p. 21.

275 ‘Für ein Rembrandt Porträt ist noch nie jemand

gestorben (gelebt mag wer dafür haben, ich z.B. ha, ha)’:

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, diary entry for 10

November 1980: Motesiczky archive.

276 See also Apples from Hinterbrühl, 1955 (no. 137).

277 Plakolm-Forsthuber 1994, p. 175.

278 ‘ich muss u. will mehr Menschen malen – aber ich

glaube es sollen nicht Porträtaufträge sein sondern

Menschen die ich auffordere – das ist gerade die

Grenze von was ich ertragen kann.’: Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky to Elias Canetti, 4 May 1957: Motesiczky


279 Cyril Scurr to Ines Schlenker, 31 March 2000:

Motesiczky archive.

280 Elias Canetti to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

7 May 1963: Motesiczky archive.

281 ‘Ich werde immer wieder um ein Porträt gebeten, auch

von nicht ganz schlechten Künstlern. Ich lehne immer

ab, aus zwei Gründen, einmal weil ich an den allerbesten

Porträtisten denke, der mich so gut kennt wie niemand

anderer, aber dann auch, weil ich nicht sitzen kann. Ich

gebe Ihnen also den Auftrag, aus der Erinnerung ein

Porträt von E.C. zu malen. Ich glaube, das könnte

besonders gut werden.’: Elias Canetti to Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky, 25 February 1990: Motesiczky archive.

282 Taylor 1985.

283 Quoted in Hodin 1961/2, p. 19.

284 ‘großartigen allegorischen Komposition’: Spiel 1966.

285 ‘vollkommene Bilder’: Tassié 1966.

286 ‘Die Selbstbildnisse sind nicht weniger ergreifend als

die Mutterbilder.’: Anonymous [Victor Matejka] 1966.

287 Borzello 1998, p. 140.

288 ‘der originellste, tiefste und einheitlichste Beitrag

Deiner Malerei zur Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts’: Daniele

Grassi, typescript, c. 1986, p. 8: Motesiczky archive.

289 ‘kenne in der Geschichte der modernen Malerei auf

diesem Gebiet kein weiteres so neues, so mutig in

Angriff genommenes und künstlerisch so wohl gelöstes

Kapitel’: ibid., p. 9: Motesiczky archive.

290 ‘Dein grösstes, eigentlichstes Werk ist . . . um derentwillen

Deine Malerei immer bestehen bleiben wird’:

Elias Canetti to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

23 December 1975: Motesiczky archive.

291 ‘phantastischen Wahrheitsliebe und einem Hang zur

Übersteigerung dessen, was das Gegenteil allgemeiner

Schönheitsbegriffe darstellt’: b. 1966.

292 ‘Mager . . . wie ein Geistchen’: Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky, diary entry for winter 1977: Motesiczky


293 ‘So tapfer, wie ein Soldat. Keine Klage nie aber auch nie.’:

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, diary entry for winter 1977:

Motesiczky archive.


Catalogue of Paintings

Notes on the Catalogue Raisonné

The artist’s estate held at the Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky Charitable Trust in London

formed the basis for work on the catalogue

raisonné. Motesiczky herself had put together

a card index and several folders of photographs

of her work which, in the course of preparing

the present publication, could be amended and

corrected. During the process of establishing the

current whereabouts of some works, several so

far unrecorded paintings and drawings came to

light, and a few recorded works could not be

found. The archive of the Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky Charitable Trust, mainly collected

by the artist and added to after her death, was

the chief source for compiling the provenance,

exhibition history and bibliography of the

paintings while the additional archives and

libraries listed in the Bibliography were

consulted for further information.

Every attempt has been made to gather and

verify as much information as possible about

the paintings. The following three works,

however, did not warrant a separate entry. Too

little is known about a portrait of Gian Carlo

Menotti, which Motesiczky painted in 1933/4

and gave to the sitter who, in 2002, was unable

to locate it. One painting, showing a deer in

a park, was virtually ‘disowned’ by Motesiczky.

She gave it to friends on condition that it was

never shown to anybody. Finally, it was not

possible to gather information on a painting,

probably a portrait of Maria Pauzenberger,

which is in a private collection in France.

catalogue number

The works are numbered chronologically

by year. Works that were impossible to date

follow on from the last dated painting.


With few exceptions, the artist herself gave her

pictures the English titles, and corrections have

been made only in a few instances where the

title was factually misleading or grammatically

incorrect. Most of the German titles are also

by Motesiczky herself, in some cases given

to the painting when it went on exhibition

in a German-speaking country. Occasionally,

if Motesiczky chose only a German title, it

has been translated into English here. Some

paintings, including the unstretched canvases,

which Motesiczky never exhibited or inventorized,

have now been given descriptive

titles. With the exception of those drawings

exhibited during Motesiczky’s lifetime, most

loose works on paper bear descriptive titles

not given by the artist. Drawings made in

sketchbooks are left untitled.


The dates used by Motesiczky have generally

been kept, unless incorrect. The artist did

not keep records of her production and

would sometimes, years later, sign and date

a work when the year she had painted it had

slipped her mind. Documents in the archive

and testimonies of contemporaries have

often helped to establish the correct date.

Where possible, undated paintings have been

allocated an approximate time of creation,

such as 1960s or c. 1970, based on the motif,

style or technique, clues given by the support

of the painting or documentary evidence.

In a few instances, when it proved impossible

to determine the date, the work has been

left undated.


In the vast majority of cases Motesiczky used

oil on canvas. The dimensions of the works

are given in mm, height before width. In

some cases, when it was impossible to access

the back of a framed picture to get the exact

measurements of the stretcher, the image was

measured from the front and ‘sight’ measurements

are provided (in the case of drawings,

the image was measured up to the mount).


Motesiczky did not consistently sign her

paintings. The signatures vary greatly

throughout her career. Some were added

long after the creation of the work, others

were altered. Where possible to decipher,

the original version is also given.


Very few works have an image on the back.

Generally in oil, its subject matter is indicated.


Unless wishing to stay anonymous, the

current owner is named. In the case of public

collections the work’s inventory or accession

number is given in brackets. Name changes

of museums and galleries have been noted. If

the current location of a painting is unknown,

the last known owner is mentioned in the

provenance. Academic degrees are omitted.

description of work

Apart from the visual inspection of the painting,

the description of the work is based on the

available archival and published material

as well as interviews with contemporaries.

It aims to provide information about the

work’s creation, interpretation and reception.

Motesiczky’s idiosyncratic spelling has been

kept in the original German whereas minor

corrections have been introduced in the

English translation to render the text more

easily readable.



The provenance of some of Motesiczky’s

paintings is complicated. In several cases the

facts are disputed. The artist had a tendency

to take back works she had given away or sold

and not return them to their former owners.

She also did not keep consistent records.

Where possible, dates of purchases or gifts

have been established.


This section contains archival sources that

provide additional information about the



The exhibitions are listed chronologically and

identified by place and year (full information

is provided in the List of Exhibitions on p. 546).

This is followed by the number under which

the work was exhibited, if known, and a reference

to the work’s illustration in the exhibition

catalogue. A colour illustration is indicated

by ‘(col.)’. Differing titles or dates used in the

exhibition catalogue are also listed. In the

case of exhibitions without accompanying

catalogues the majority of works shown

could be identified with the help of exhibition

reviews, archival documents such as letters and

lists, and labels on the backs of the paintings.


This section lists the published material

on the individual work. It attempts to be as

comprehensive as possible. Books, essays and

articles are ordered chronologically by year

and alphabetically within a year and referred

to by the author’s surname and the year of

publication (full information is provided in

the Bibliography on p. 548). Details of the

references and illustrations follow: ‘n.p.’

indicates that the publication does not have

page numbers, ‘(col.)’ a colour illustration.

Illustrations are referred to by page numbers

(plate or fig. numbers are given only when no

page number was available). In some instances,

when, for example, working from black-andwhite

photocopies and in cases where the

original source could not be located, errors

may have occurred. Differing titles used are

given in brackets. Sometimes, when the

painting is not referred to by title in the text,

its identity has had to be established from

the context.



Small Roulette

Kleines Roulette


Oil on canvas, 398 × 503 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

Small Roulette demonstrates Motesiczky’s

admiration for Vincent van Gogh, whose works

she had first seen on a trip to the Netherlands

in 1922. She subsequently eagerly read about

him in Julius Meier-Graefe’s 1921 publication

Vincent. Together with Stool, 1926 (no. 10),

perhaps an even more marked tribute to van

Gogh, Small Roulette shows the strong artistic

influence of the Dutch painter on the young

artist before she came under Max Beckmann’s

spell when visiting his master-class in

Frankfurt in 1927/8.

Motesiczky depicts a detail of a wooden

chair with a straw seat and a curved back.

Placed on a carefully executed parquet floor,

the chair stands out as a solid object against

a wall with a sweeping green floral pattern. A

folded white cloth is draped across the corner

of the seat of the chair, slightly disturbed by

the miniature roulette (which incidentally

survived in the artist’s estate). A red coral

necklace, probably the one Motesiczky is

wearing in At the Dressmaker’s, 1930 (no. 35),

lies next to the roulette, its curved shapes

echoing the pattern on the wall.

This very early work already uses a device

Motesiczky was to employ throughout her

career: the black border, here marking the

right side of the composition. It reappears,

for example, in Mrs Bolter, 1986 (no. 285), and

again, on two sides, in Nude, 1931 (no. 36),

Self-portrait with Red Hat, 1938 (no. 47), and

Self-portrait in Black, 1959 (no. 159). Curiously,

Motesiczky did not get the perspective quite

right in Small Roulette. While the legs of the

chair are not straight but wonderfully alive,

its left edge does not align with the back, the

mistake being hidden by the cloth and the

roulette. In addition, the floorboards, which

are not continued up to the left edge of the

painting, do not form a consistent line where

they meet the wall.


López Calatayud 2005, p. 25; Schlenker 2006a, pp. 16–19,

illus. p. 17 (col.); Lloyd 2007, p. 54.



The Undertaker


Oil on canvas, 464 × 332 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

This empathetic portrait shows the head of

an unknown Austrian undertaker. Wearing the

contemporary uniform consisting of a black

cape and a pointed hat, known as a Dreispitz,

he is posing in front of a grey curtain. No hair

is visible under his hat or on his clean-shaven

face. Under slightly raised eyebrows, large and

soulful eyes, hooded yet open wide, gaze into

the distance. Two deep lines run from the nose

down towards his chin which is prominent,

rounded and marked by a dimple. In its

simple formality and austerity this portrayal

is eminently appropriate for the sombre

profession of the sitter.


Liverpool 2006, ex catalogue.



View of Vienna

Blick aus dem Fenster


Oil on canvas, 792 × 334 mm

Signed (top right): M. Motesiczky 1925.

Walter Elkan, London

Similar to View from the Window, Vienna, 1925

(no. 4), this is a view from the artist’s window.

Here, on a misty and overcast day, Motesiczky

is painting the scene from her bedroom in the

family flat on the fourth floor of Brahmsplatz 7.

The interior and exterior spaces are sharply

divided by the starkly contrasting dark window

frame, painted black by the artist and her

brother Karl in emulation of the colour scheme

in a friend’s flat, and much to the annoyance

of their mother. White cushions and a richly

patterned, heavy blanket in red and various

shades of silver, strategically placed to

draughtproof the window, mark the splendid

decoration of the interior. The outside is

rather more austere. Through the window the

façades and roofs of the houses opposite can

be glimpsed, with the cupola of the Johann-

Strauss-Theater, a well-known venue for light

opera which Motesiczky sometimes attended

in the mid-1920s, crowning the view. The

overall cold silvery colour scheme suggests

this might be a winter scene, which in fact it

is not. Motesiczky described her intentions in

the following words: ‘I wanted to capture the

foggy dampness, to paint the cold damp feeling.

I applied the colour rather thickly, putting heaps

on the palette as in other early pictures.’ 1


1 Quoted in Tate Gallery, 1996, p. 501.


Artist; Walter Elkan (purchased 1986).


Tate Gallery, 1996, p. 501; Lloyd 2007, pp. 208 f.



View from the Window, Vienna

Blick aus dem Fenster, Wien


Oil on canvas, 625 × 310 mm

Tate, London (T04849)

This view of wintry Vienna was painted from

the artist’s studio, situated above the family’s

fourth-floor apartment on the Brahmsplatz.

The north-facing room looks onto a jumble

of closely interlocking roofs, façades and inner

courtyards leading up to the focal point of the

painting: the cupola of the Johann-Strauss-

Theater, famous for its performances of light

opera that the artist recalled attending in

the mid-1920s. The familiar roof-top scene,

refreshed and slightly alienated through the

snow, quietly evokes the city’s charms in

winter. This transformation inspired Motesiczky

to apply a straightforward approach of recording

the view: ‘I was very concerned to give exactly

the impression of what I saw there. There was

hardly any change or invention involved in

making the subject into a nice picture.’ 1 The

artist painted another version of the same view

from a floor below (View of Vienna, 1925, no. 3).

Despite its wintry setting, the colour scheme of

yellow, pink and brown in this painting creates

a much warmer overall effect. The painting

gives the perfect illusion of being a ‘window

to the world’, which it literally depicts. The

window pane on the right, the strip of yellow

curtain on the left and the snow-covered

balustrade at the bottom provide small clues to

the actual interior surroundings of the artist.

sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Richard Morphet, Tate Gallery, London, to Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky, [1986]: ‘Your works in the Tate are

causing much interest & enjoyment to visitors.’

Elinor Verdemato to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

23 March 1988: ‘Eigentlich möchte ich Dir heute nur

gratulieren, denn von Peter hörte ich, daß Du 3

Bilder nun in der Tate hängen hast. Das ist doch

einfach grossartig und so schön daß Du es erlebst!’


1 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Sean Rainbird,

27 November 1987, quoted in Tate Gallery, 1996, p. 501.


Artist; Ilse Leembruggen (before 1948); artist (gift after Ilse

Leembruggen’s death in 1961); Tate Gallery (presented by

the artist in 1986).


London 1985, no. 3, illus. p. 18 (col.); Cambridge 1986, no. 3,

illus. p. 18 (col.); London 1986c; Vienna 1994, no. 11, illus. (col.),

shown as Blick aus dem Fenster, c. 1935; Manchester 1994,

no. 10, dated c. 1935; Liverpool 2006, no. 3, illus. p. 51 (col.);

Frankfurt am Main 2006, no. 3, illus. p. 51 (col.); Vienna 2007,

no. 3, illus. p. 51 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 3, illus. p. 51 (col.);

Southampton 2007, no. 3, illus. p. 51 (col.).


Tate Gallery, 1986, n.p.; Vann 1987, p. 15; Fallon 1996, illus. n.p.;

Tate Gallery, 1996, pp. 500–502, illus. p. 501; Vorderwülbecke

1999, pp. 54 f.n., 56 f.n., illus. p. 109 (View from the Window);

Phillips 2001, p. 31; Michel 2003, p. 50, illus. Abb. 60 (col.)

(c. 1935); Foster 2004, p. 143, illus. p. 143 (col.); Lloyd 2004,

p. 212 (dated 1926); López Calatayud 2005, p. 25; Behr 2006,

p. 561, illus. p. 560 (col.); R. Gries 2006, n.p.; Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky, exh. booklet 2006, n.p., illus. n.p. (col.); Orth 2006,

n.p.; Schlenker 2006b, pp. 204 f.; Schlenker 2006c, p. 50;

Schlenker 2006d, p. 260; Vinzent 2006, pp. 159 f., illus. p. 382;

Lloyd 2007, pp. 55, 207, 267 f.n.




Hinterbrühl, Glasshouse


Oil on canvas, 533 × 414 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

Set among the outbuildings of the

Motesiczkys’ large estate in Hinterbrühl,

near Vienna, nestled the glasshouse (fig. 41).

It was squeezed between the white-washed

wall of one building and the low roof of

another, whose long metal chimney juts out

in the foreground. The complex of buildings is

surrounded by forest. A single telegraph pole,

eerily bare of wires as in Street in Hinterbrühl,

1925 (no. 7), provides the connection to the

outside world. The triangular roof of the

glasshouse is covered by numerous individual

wooden shutters, all closed against the sun,

so barring a view of the inside. Motesiczky

carefully observes how the sunlight, falling

through the holes of the metal roof, casts a

light pattern on the glasshouse. In the lower

right corner of the painting the wooden borders

of outdoor flowerbeds can be glimpsed.

Fig. 41 The glasshouse in Hinterbrühl (left) with flowerbeds and

a painted crucifix, photograph, 1920s (Motesiczky archive)



Still-life with Coffee Pot

Stilleben mit Kaffeekanne


Oil on canvas, 433 × 475 mm

Dated (bottom right): 1925

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

In this early still-life, Motesiczky used a technique

that she employed only in a few works

from the mid-1920s (see for example Hanni,

Hinterbrühl, 1925, no. 8) in which the paint is

applied in thick swirls of impasto. This was

soon abandoned for a less heavily worked style.

Here, the artist chose a slightly raised perspective

to capture the corner of a marble-topped

chest of drawers, which is placed against a

brown wall, the top drawer with its knob just

visible. A seemingly accidental collection of

objects is gathered on its surface: a pink cloth

or shawl, a blue cup, a saucer holding a pot

with a cactus-like plant, probably a tillandsia,

some of whose long spiky leaves touch the

wall, and, at the front, a white coffee pot and a

Semmel, a simple Austrian bread roll decorated

with the pattern of a star. The combination

and arbitrary placement of items, probably of

a personal nature, suggest that we might be

looking at the artist’s dressing-table, captured

at breakfast time.


Cambridge 1986, ex catalogue; Liverpool 2006, no. 1, illus.

p. 47 (col.); Frankfurt am Main 2006, no. 1, illus. p. 47 (col.);

Vienna 2007, no. 1, illus. p. 47 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 1, illus.

p. 47 (col.); Southampton 2007, no. 1, illus. p. 47 (col.).


López Calatayud 2005, pp. 22, 25, illus. n.p. (two details, col.);

Sander 2006, pp. 126 f.; Lloyd 2007, p. 55.



Street in Hinterbrühl

Straße, Hinterbrühl


Oil on canvas, 550 × 390 mm

Dated (bottom right): 1925

Private collection, London

During the nineteenth century Hinterbrühl,

a village in the Wienerwald south-west of

Vienna, became a fashionable rural retreat for

the wealthy Viennese. Many magnificent villas

were erected, among them the Villa Todesco,

built by Moritz Todesco, Motesiczky’s greatgreat-uncle.

The artist spent the summers of

her childhood and youth here and during the

winters the Motesiczkys lived at the family

home in Vienna.

This painting shows the Parkstraße which

runs parallel to the Hauptstraße, the main

thoroughfare of the village, and leads to the

tram station. The tree-lined street, empty of

people, rapidly takes the eye to the centre of

the picture. Between the trees one glimpses

a house, a wooden fence and several telegraph

poles. In her nineties the artist recalled how

for weeks she had taken her handcart to the

same spot at half-past four every day and

painted the lime trees as she experienced

them. ‘I even counted the leaves. And I thought

to myself, what you find so beautiful belongs

to you. Therefore you must paint it as it is.’ 1

The resulting image, however, with its strangely

empty road, leaden sky and stylized leaves, is

not naturalistic. The telegraph poles stand

isolated and useless without their connecting

wires. The whole scene has an air of expectancy

that borders on the enigmatic and was

described by one critic as ‘a sort of Expressionist

Surrealism’. 2 Motesiczky may have known Max

Beckmann’s street scene Blühende Akazie, 1925

(fig. 42), which adopts a comparable viewpoint

and depicts a strikingly similar atmosphere.

sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, diary entry for 8 July [1925]:

‘Der Sommer vergeht so geschwind alles läuf einem

durch die Finger wenn man nur mehr festhalten

könnte. Aber das ist nich wesentlich – ich arbeite (ein

Landschaft) u sehe u gehe fiel im Dorf herum. Die

fertigen Bilder liegen dort auf der Gasse herum u man

muß sich nur die Mühe nehmen sie zu malen. So ein

Sommer ist eine schöne Sache! vielleicht die schönste

Jahreszeit! Bäume mit tausend Blättern, weisse

Zäune große Kastanienblätter (wibrierende Stille,

Urwaldähnliche Üppigkeit) das müßte man alles

mal machen.’


1 ‘Ich habe sogar die Blätter gezählt. Und ich habe mir

gedacht, was du so schön findest, das gehört dir. Deshalb

mußt du es so malen, wie es ist.’: Moser 1992, p. 176.

2 Helfgott 1966.


Artist; Louise Rupé (c. 1930); artist (not returned after 1985

exhibition); Eva and Jeremy Adler (loan in 1989, later gift).


The Hague 1939; Vienna 1966, no. 1, illus.; Linz 1966, no. 1,

illus.; Munich 1967, no. 1, illus.; Bremen 1968, no. 1, illus.;

London 1985, no. 2, illus. p. 17 (col.); Cambridge 1986, no. 2,

illus. p. 17 (col.); Vienna 1994, no. 1, illus. (col.), shown as

Straße in der Hinterbrühl; Liverpool 2006, no. 2, illus. p. 49

(col.); Frankfurt am Main 2006, no. 2, illus. p. 49 (col.).


Helfgott 1966, n.p.; Reifenberg 1966a, n.p.; Vogel 1966a, n.p.

(Straße in der Hinterbrühl); Vogel 1966b, n.p. (Straße in der

Hinterbrühl); Gaisbauer 1986, n.p.; Moser 1992, p. 176, illus.

p. 118; Adler 1994, p. 18 (Straße in Hinterbrühl); Black 1994, p. 9;

Melchart 1994, n.p. (Straße in der Hinterbrühl); Schmidt 1994a,

p. 6 (Straße in der Hinterbrühl); Anonymous [ Jeremy Adler]

1996, n.p.; Michel 2003, pp. 16 f., illus. Abb. 7 (col.) (Straße in

der Hinterbrühl); Black 2006, p. 57 (Street, Hinterbrühl); Lloyd

2006, pp. 36, 39 (Straße in Hinterbrühl); Schlenker 2006c, p. 48;

Schlenker 2006d, p. 254; Vinzent 2006, p. 161 (Straße in der

Hinterbrühl); Lloyd 2007, p. 55.

Fig. 42 Max Beckmann, Blühende Akazie, 1925,

oil on canvas, 550 × 450 mm (private collection, Germany)




Hanni, Hinterbrühl


Oil on canvas, 412 × 294 mm

Dated (bottom right): 1925

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

Hanni, whose surname is unknown, was

probably a local girl from Hinterbrühl. The

fact that the painting has also been referred

to as ‘Arbeiterin/Junge Farbige’ (female worker/

young black woman) suggests that she may

have worked in the local Bördelfabrik, a factory

producing shoelaces, braids and trimmings.

It is said that when Motesiczky left school at

the age of thirteen she intended to work there.

Placed on a chair directly in front of a wall

decorated with an arrow-like pattern on a

green-beige wallpaper, the young girl, with her

long, thin neck projecting from a bony chest

and her large black eyes gazing guardedly at

the viewer, appears vulnerable and ill at ease.

Apart from the curiously shaped hairstyle and

the little red earring – the only adornment in

an otherwise starkly bare painting – the girl’s

slightly foreign looks are most noticeable. It is

unlikely that Hanni was a young black woman,

as the term ‘Junge Farbige’ suggests. She may,

however, have been a gypsy girl. Motesiczky’s

tendency to ‘exoticize’ the sitter is more apparent

in Apache, painted in the following year (no. 9).

There, even the title suggests the ‘otherness’

of the sitter and obscures his probable local


Hanni, Hinterbrühl was probably among the

paintings which the artist’s brother, Karl von

Motesiczky, sent on to the Netherlands from

Vienna in 1938. During the war it was stored

in a factory belonging to the artist’s Dutch

relatives. It was located again in 1954 and, with

the other works that survived the war in this

way, was sent over to England.


London 1985, no. 1, illus. p. 65; Manchester 1994, no. 1.


Vorderwülbecke 1999, p. 31, illus. p. 65 (Hanni); López

Calatayud 2005, p. 22 (Portrait of Hanni Hinterbrühl), illus. n.p.

(two details, col.); Lloyd 2006, pp. 36, 39, illus. p. 39 (col.).





Oil on canvas, 461 × 270 mm

Dated (bottom left): 1926

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

Like Hanni, Hinterbrühl, 1925 (no. 8), this

half-length portrait of an unnamed young

man probably depicts a local inhabitant of

Hinterbrühl whom the artist imbued with

exoticized features. In front of a gleaming

white background, on which the shadow

stands out dramatically, Motesiczky portrays

a haggard face with prominent cheekbones.

On the one hand, the almond-shaped, slightly

slanting eyes, the black hair and the receding

forehead give the sitter a foreign air that might

be reminiscent of a Native American or an

inhabitant of the Mediterranean; a document

in the artist’s estate lists this painting as

‘Spanier’ (Spaniard). On the other hand, ‘apache’

was a term widely used in Paris in the 1920s

that referred to a type of young male, ‘the ideal

of a true ruffian’, living in one of the French

capital’s poorer districts outside the city. He

did not have a regular job and lived off stolen

goods or prostitution. Typically, an apache

would wear a peaked cap, a short belted jacket

and a garish neckerchief. His hair would be

smoothed down with pomade. At the weekend,

apaches would congregate and visit fairs and

dances, inventing an ‘Apache Dance’. 1

Motesiczky, who lived in Paris for a few

months in 1926 (and, as has been suggested,

could have painted the portrait there), was

probably aware of this meaning of apache. The

young man’s clothing, especially the colourful

yellow scarf with a red border, as well as his

hairstyle conform to the above description.

One detail, however, firmly locates him in his

Austrian surroundings: the blue jacket sports

what probably is a stag-horn button, habitually

used for the Austrian traditional costume.

Apache was probably among the paintings

which the artist’s brother, Karl von Motesiczky,

sent on to the Netherlands from Vienna in

1938. During the war it was stored in a factory

belonging to the artist’s Dutch relatives. It was

located again in 1954 and, with the other works

that survived the war in this way, was sent over

to England.


1 Max Beckmann and Paris, exh. cat. 1998, p. 170.


Frankfurt am Main 2006, no. 4, illus. p. 53 (col.); Vienna

2007, no. 4, illus. p. 53 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 4, illus. p. 53

(col.); Southampton 2007, no. 4, illus. p. 53 (col.).


Michel 2003, p. 18, illus. Abb. 14 (col.); López Calatayud

2005, pp. 14, 25; Schlenker 2006c, p. 52; Lloyd 2007,

pp. 55, 147.






Oil on canvas, 612 × 382 mm

Signed (bottom right): 1926 Motesiczky; dated (bottom left): 1925

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

This still-life, probably painted in Paris, comes

close to being an intimate portrait of a chair.

Placed against the wall next to a piece of

furniture stands a simple wooden stool with

a straw seat. A pink shawl, with a pattern of

darker flowers, is draped across it and a tiny

metal frying pan is placed next to the shawl.

The heads of two pink carnations lie scattered

on the floor.

It is tempting to juxtapose Stool with

Vincent van Gogh’s depiction of chairs, especially

Van Gogh’s Chair (fig. 43). Motesiczky had

admired van Gogh since she first encountered

his pictures in the Netherlands as a young girl.

In the mid-1980s, looking back on her life,

Motesiczky sought to emphasize how much

his work had influenced her:

In 1922 I had my first experience of Van

Gogh when I saw his pictures in a room

in The Hague – it was unforgettably

wonderful – The Bridge and others – so

much light … I was given Meier Graefe’s

book to read. This and some other things

decoded it all. I thought: if you could only

paint a single good picture in your lifetime,

your life would be worthwhile. I also started

to look at the Dutch school a great deal –

Jan Steen and Frans Hals, and Vermeer.

This happy time lasted four months.

Holland is a wonderful country if you want

to be a painter. It was difficult to return to

Vienna after ecstasy like that. How and

what should I learn? It was Van Gogh’s

sun which in the cold Hague spring was

a revelation to me. 1

Four years after her stay in the Netherlands,

Motesiczky had already met Max Beckmann

and seen a number of his paintings. Yet it is

van Gogh’s chair and his use of light that seem

to have stimulated Motesiczky here. A copy of

Julius Meier-Graefe’s book Vincent (published

in 1921), which includes an illustration of

Van Gogh’s Chair, is in the artist’s estate. Van

Gogh’s and Motesiczky’s chairs are similarly

positioned and both hold personal belongings

of their absent owners: in van Gogh’s case,

the male paraphernalia of smoking (a pipe

and some tobacco), and, in Motesiczky’s case,

female symbols of beauty (a shawl) and duty

(a kitchen implement). While no object in van

Gogh’s painting throws a shadow, Motesiczky

carefully explores the play of light and shadow

in all its detail as if to record faithfully what

had initially most impressed her in his art.

Stool was probably among the paintings

which the artist’s brother, Karl von Motesiczky,

sent on to the Netherlands from Vienna in

1938. During the war it was stored in a factory

belonging to the artist’s Dutch relatives. It

was located again in 1954 and, with the other

works that survived the war in this way, was

subsequently sent over to England.

Fig. 43 Vincent van Gogh, Van Gogh’s Chair, 1888,

oil on canvas, 918 × 730 mm (National Gallery, London)


1 Motesiczky 1985, p. 11.


Liverpool 2006, no. 7, illus. p. 59 (col.); Frankfurt am Main

2006, no. 7, illus. p. 59 (col.); Vienna 2007, no. 7, illus. p. 59

(col.); Passau 2007, no. 7, illus. p. 59 (col.); Southampton 2007,

no. 7, illus. p. 59 (col.).


López Calatayud 2005, pp. 8, 12, 14, 18, 25, illus. n.p. (full

and numerous details, col.); Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

exh. booklet 2006, illus. n.p. (col.); Sander 2006, pp. 126 f.




Still-life with Tulips

Stilleben mit Tulpen


Oil on canvas, 637 × 460 mm

Dated (bottom left): 1926

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

This early emblematic and autobiographical

still-life is believed to have been painted in

the artist’s room at the Hotel Recamier, 3 Place

Saint Sulpice, in Paris. A light blue table, the

surface of which is tilted towards the viewer,

is shown in front of a brown wall (perhaps a

shuttered window or the back of a painting)

and a grey curtain. On the table are a bowl

containing three potted pink tulips resting on

a large, slim booklet and a couple of smaller

books, one bearing the inscription ‘Laczi’.

Two apples arranged on top of these books

complete the composition. None of the books

bears a title and only one shows an enigmatic

trace of its identity.

‘Laczi’ was Motesiczky’s nickname for

Baron Lajos Hatvany (1880–1961), also known

as Ludwig Deutsch (fig. 44). The proprietor of

a sugar factory, a socialist, a well-known author

Fig. 44 Lajos Hatvany, photograph, undated

(Petőfi Irodalmi Múzeum, Budapest)

and erudite patron of the arts, especially

literature, he came from one of the most

prominent and wealthy Jewish families in

Hungary and counted Thomas Mann and

Arthur Koestler among his friends. During

the regency of Admiral Horthy (1920–44) he

went into exile in Vienna, from where he

opposed the Horthy regime. Although Hatvany

belonged to the famous Viennese salon of

Eugenie Schwarzwald and continued to write,

he later expressed his intense dislike of his

time in exile: ‘With the exception of a few

highlights, which your modesty prohibits me

from describing, I think with horror of my

Viennese years. The exile was a great disease,

I have been cured by prison.’ 1

Motesiczky befriended Hatvany during

his lengthy political exile. Letters and diaries

suggest that the first of their infrequent and

secret meetings took place in 1925, when

Hatvany and his wife Christa Winsloe, a sculptor

and writer, stayed at the Hermesvilla in Vienna.

In 1927, Hatvany felt it safe to return to

Hungary where he was immediately arrested

and sent to prison. Upon his release nine

months later, he was prohibited from appearing

in public and writing for newspapers and

instead concentrated on literary activities.

He emigrated to England in 1938, spent the

Second World War in Oxford and returned

to Hungary after the war. After their years of

intimate friendship Motesiczky and Hatvany

kept in touch via letters and occasional visits.

In 1925/6 Motesiczky recorded reading one

of Hatvany’s publications, perhaps the fictional

academic journal Die Wissenschaft des Nicht

Wissenswerten of 1908 or Das verwundete Land,

an investigation of Hungary’s recent past,

published in 1921. The latter is probably the

work depicted here. The young artist cleverly

disguises her reverence for the considerably

older, established figure. The true identity of

‘Laczi’ has remained hidden until very recently.

A similar, though less discreet, homage is paid

to Elias Canetti in Orchid, 1958 (no. 153).


1 ‘Mit Ausnahme einiger Lichtpunkte, die zu beschreiben

mir Deine Bescheidenheit verbietet, denke ich mit

Schaudern an die Wiener Jahre. Das Exil war eine grosse

Krankheit, ich bin durch das Gefaengnis kuriert.’: Lajos

Hatvany to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 17 September

1929: Motesiczky archive.


London 1985, no. 5, illus. p. 20 (col.); Cambridge 1986, no. 5,

illus. p. 20 (col.); Vienna 1994, no. 2, illus. (col.); Manchester

1994, no. 3; Vienna 1995, no. 44, p. 307, illus. p. 141 (col.);

Liverpool 2006, no. 6, illus. p. 57 (col.); Frankfurt am Main

2006, no. 6, illus. p. 57 (col.); Vienna 2007, no. 6, illus. p. 57

(col.); Passau 2007, no. 6, illus. p. 57 (col.); Southampton 2007,

no. 6, illus. p. 57 (col.).


Black 1994, p. 3; Schmidt 1994a, p. 7; Neue Sachlichkeit, exh.

cat. 1995, illus. p. 141 (col.); Vorderwülbecke 1999, p. 32, illus.

p. 71; Phillips 2001, illus. p. 32; Michel 2003, pp. 17–19, 37, 57,

illus. Abb. 10 (col.); López Calatayud 2005, pp. 14, 25, illus.

n.p. (two details, col.); Behr 2006, p. 561; Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky, exh. booklet 2006, n.p.; Sander 2006, pp. 126 f.;

Schlenker 2006c, p. 56; Lloyd 2007, pp. 58 f., 159.




Workman, Paris

Arbeiter, Paris


Oil on canvas, 1306 × 692 mm

Signed (bottom right): Motesiczky 1926

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust,

on permanent loan to the Scottish National Gallery

of Modern Art, Edinburgh

This full-length portrait of an unnamed French

worker was painted in Paris where Motesiczky

spent the winter months between 1925 and

1927 studying at the Académie de la Grande

Chaumière in Montparnasse. The setting is

the studio Motesiczky rented with her Dutch

friend and fellow artist Berthe Edersheim

(1901–93). It belonged to a Polish dancer who

‘danced by night, but during the day she slept

behind a screen’. 1 The sitter is believed to have

been the caretaker who, every morning, came

to light the fire in the studio. Judging from the

look on his face, his reaction to being asked to

sit for his portrait was probably mild astonishment

and amusement. Seated on a chair on a

raised platform, he is smiling to himself. His

sensible clothes, heavy shoes and brown cap do

not seem at odds with the modest surroundings,

and his statuesque and awkwardly formal

posture suggests that he is unused to being a

model. The simplicity of the flat surfaces and

the unobtrusive background of the plain white

wall echo the atmosphere of the sparsely

furnished studio. Only a small cupboard is

partially visible on the left and another, just

discernible, can be glimpsed behind the sitter’s

chair. The only relief from this austerity is the

colourful scarf draped over the back of the

chair that, as family tradition has it, belonged

to the artist and was produced by the Wiener


This painting was the first of Motesiczky’s

works that Max Beckmann was allowed to see

back in Vienna. She later remembered that

‘His reaction was very positive. He said that

at my age he had not got so far. It was a fine

simple statement, almost like the comment

of an older colleague.’ 2 After seeing this work,

Beckmann suggested that Motesiczky attend

his master-class at the Städelschule in

Frankfurt, an invitation she took up in the

academic year 1927/8. With Workman, Paris she

seems to have anticipated her future teacher’s

advice to students who tackled over-ambitious

compositions: ‘Amusing. But try and suppress

these things for a time; they will come out all

the more strongly later. For the present you

should paint labourers.’ 3

sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, notebook entry for 5 May

1985: ‘Als ich den Arbeiter in Paris malte, war ich 20

Jahre alt. Es war das erste Arbeit, die Beckmann von

mir sah . . . Er war erstaunt und erfreut.’


1 Motesiczky 1985, p. 12.

2 Ibid.

3 Motesiczky 1984, p. 53.


Artist; Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust; lent

to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (2008).


The Hague 1939; London 1985, no. 6, illus. p. 65; Cambridge

1986, no. 6, illus. p. 65; Vienna 1994, no. 3, illus. (col.);

Manchester 1994, no. 2; Vienna 1995, no. 45, pp. 137, 307, illus.

p. 142 (col.); Liverpool 2006, no. 8, illus. p. 61 (col.); Frankfurt

am Main 2006, no. 8, illus. p. 61 (col.); Vienna 2007, no. 8,

illus. p. 61 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 8, illus. p. 61 (col.);

Southampton 2007, no. 8, illus. p. 61 (col.).


A.d.B. 1939, n.p.; Anonymous [1939], n.p.; Gruyter 1939, n.p.;

Veth 1939, n.p.; Motesiczky 1984, p. 50; Berryman 1985, p. 628;

Calvocoressi 1985, p. 60; Motesiczky 1985, p. 12; Gaisbauer

1986, n.p.; Winterbottom 1986, p. 11; Anonymous 1994b, illus.

n.p. (detail); Anonymous 1994j, illus. p. 14; Black 1994, pp. 3 f.,

6 f.; Cohen 1994, p. 93; Plakolm-Forsthuber 1994, p. 166

(Französischer Arbeiter); Schmidt 1994a, p. 6; Neue Sachlichkeit,

exh. cat. 1995, illus. p. 142 (col.); Tabor 1995, n.p. (Arbeiter);

Anonymous 1996b, n.p.; Anonymous [Jeremy Adler] 1996,

n.p.; Black 1996, n.p. (Paris Workman); Fellner/Nagler 1996,

p. 14; Black 1997, p. 992; Aus der Meisterklasse Max Beckmanns,

exh. cat. 2000, p. 58 (Arbeiter); Dollen 2000, p. 235; Phillips

2001, p. 30; Schmied 2002, illus. p. 97; Michel 2003, pp. 19 f.,

illus. Abb. 15 (col.); Lloyd 2004, p. 212; López Calatayud 2005,

pp. 11 f.n., 14; Davies 2006b, n.p.; R. Gries 2006, n.p. (Arbeiter);

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, exh. booklet 2006, n.p., illus. n.p.

(col.) (Workman in Paris); Sander 2006, pp. 122 f.; Schlenker

2006c, p. 60; Schlenker 2006d, p. 254; Vinzent 2006, p. 161;

Lloyd 2007, pp. 57 f., 65, illus. fig. 13 (col.); Wiesauer 2007,

n.p. (Arbeiter).




Self-portrait with Comb

Selbstporträt mit Kamm


Oil on canvas, 830 × 450 mm

Dated (bottom left): 1926

Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna (9094)

This touching self-portrait of the 20-year-old

artist shows the external features for which

Motesiczky was known among her friends

and acquaintances: the big, questioning,

somewhat sad eyes, the piercing gaze, the long

limbs – features that the painting especially

emphasizes. Painted in Vienna the year before

Motesiczky joined Max Beckmann’s masterclass

at the Städelschule in Frankfurt, her

future teacher nevertheless provided both

direct and indirect inspiration for the painting.

On a visit to the Louvre with Motesiczky,

Beckmann had talked appreciatively about

El Greco’s portrait of St Louis, King of France,

and a Page (fig. 46). Motesiczky remembered

this recommendation and modelled her first,

austere and revealingly mannered self-portrait

on the work of both painters. While the general

posture and the gracefully elongated hands are

taken from the Spanish master, Beckmann’s

range of colours has been adopted, along with

the unusually tall and narrow format he used,

for example in his 1924 Bildnis Käthe von Porada

(fig. 47), portraying a friend of the Motesiczky

family. Motesiczky depicts herself at the intimate

daily task of combing her long reddish-blonde

hair (see fig. 45). In one hand she holds a comb

and in the other a little hand mirror. Pale and

fragile, she is sitting upright on a chair in a

poised and strangely elongated pose. Pausing

for a moment, she shyly and questioningly

confronts her own image. This is a traditional

posture for self-portraits and, despite the lack

of painterly accessories, it is not difficult to

imagine the comb and mirror replaced by a

brush and palette in an obvious statement of

the sitter’s profession.

sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Gretl Rupé to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 15 September

1968: ‘Sei beruhigt, Louisje hat nie daran gedacht daß

Du ihr Dein frühes Selbstbildnis … schenken würdest.

Sie hat nur einmal gesagt: “ach wenn ich es noch

einmal für eine gewisse Zeit geliehen bekäme.” Ich

Fig. 45 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky at her dressing table,

photograph, c. 1920 (Motesiczky archive)

verstehe Dich sehr gut, daß Du Dich nicht davon

trennen kannst, nachdem Du Dich schon von den

anderen Selbstbildnissen hast trennen müssen!’

Daniele Grassi, typescript, c. 1986, p. 7: ‘Man betrachte

das “Selbstporträt mit Kamm” von 1926 mit den

drohend vor Dir aufgetürmten 20 Jahren Deiner

Jugend – Du jedoch thronst so hyperlanglinig über

Deinem Zugeständnis gegenüber Alter und

Geschlecht, bereits ganz in Beschlag genommen von

einer Betrachtung, die, nach Senkung des Spiegels,

nicht nur den eigenen Formen gilt. Die Komposition

ist ausgeglichen in ihrer auf- und absteigenden

Bewegung, fließend und elliptisch mit dem einzigen

schneidenden Akzent des sägeförmigen Kammes.’

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Gerbert Frodl,

Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, 26 April 1994:

‘I am so pleased to accept your offer to purchase the

“Self Portrait with Comb” for OS 300,000. I am proud

to know that the painting will be enjoyed as part of the

permanent collection of the Belvedere. Regarding the

possible gift or loan of a larger collection of my works

to be exhibited at the Belvedere, it was extremely

helpful to hear from Dr Schmidt about the pictures

Fig. 46 El Greco, St Louis, King of France, and a Page, 1590–97,

oil on canvas, 1200 × 960 mm (Musée du Louvre, Paris)



that would be of most interest to the Museum. It will

take me a bit of time to select the proper collection

and decide upon the appropriate conditions for their

exhibition. As soon as I have decided on a specific

proposal, I will write to you again. In the meantime,

if you have any further ideas that you would like me to

take into consideration, I would appreciate to receive

them from you.’

Carole Angier to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 22 August

1994: ‘congratulations on your permanent

Belvedere exhibition – and on your decoration by the

Austrian government!! Paintings, unlike books (as you

said) need a physical home to survive; yours have got

it now – and what a one, one of the best in the world.

So, you too, dear Marie-Louise, will never die.’

Inge Miller-Aichholz to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

22 October 1995: ‘Gestern hörte ich, dass die Österr.

Galerie im Belvedere fertig und wieder sehenswert

geworden ist. dein Bild hängt auch dort.’


Artist; Ilse Leembruggen (before 1948); artist (gift after Ilse

Leembruggen’s death in 1961); Österreichische Galerie

Belvedere (purchased 1994).


The Hague 1939, no. 6; London 1960, no. 1, shown as

Self-portrait; Vienna 1966, no. 2, illus., shown as Frühes

Selbstportrait; Linz 1966, no. 2, illus., shown as Frühes

Selbstportrait; Munich 1967, no. 2, illus., shown as Frühes

Selbstportrait; Bremen 1968, no. 2, illus., shown as Frühes

Selbstportrait; Frankfurt am Main 1980, no. 70, illus., shown

as Frühes Selbstbildnis; London 1985, no. 7, illus. p. 21 (col.);

Cambridge 1986, no. 7, illus. p. 21 (col.); Vienna 1994, no. 4,

illus. on cover (detail, col.) and in the catalogue (col.); Vienna

1999a, p. 104, illus. p. 105 (col.); Vienna 2004a, illus. p. 313

(col.); Klosterneuburg 2006, illus. p. 213 (col.); Frankfurt am

Main 2006, no. 5, illus. p. 55 (col.); Vienna 2007, no. 5, illus.

p. 55 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 5, illus. p. 55 (col.).


Anonymous [1939], n.p.; Gruyter 1939, n.p.; Anonymous

[Eric Newton] 1960, n.p.; BA 1966, n.p. (Frühes Selbstbildnis);

Kraft 1966, n.p.; Pack 1966, n.p.; Reifenberg 1966a, n.p.

(Selbstportrait); Reifenberg 1966b, p. 16, illus. p. 16

(Selbstporträt); Spiel 1966, n.p.; Tassié 1966, n.p. (Frühes

Selbstporträt); Albrecht 1968, n.p.; Dr. S. 1968, n.p.; Motesiczky

1984, p. 50, illus. p. 51 (Self-portrait); Anonymous 1985, n.p.;

Calvocoressi 1985, p. 60; f.th. 1985, illus. n.p.; Feaver 1985, n.p.;

Gombrich 1985, p. 6; Taylor 1985, n.p.; Spiel 1987, illus. after

p. 154 (col.) (plate 2); Adler 1994, p. 18 (Selbstbildnis mit Kamm);

Adunka 1994, illus. p. 20 (detail); Baker 1994, illus. p. 11;

Black 1994, pp. 4, 6, illus. p. 5; Cohen 1994, p. 94, illus. p. 94;

G.F. 1994, n.p.; Koch 1994, illus. p. 98; Kruntorad 1994, n.p.,

illus. n.p.; Kulturjournal, Radio Bremen 2, 21 February 1994,

transcript p. 2; Melchart 1994, illus. n.p. (col.); Packer 1994,

n.p.; Plakolm-Forsthuber 1994, p. 166, illus. p. 166 (col.);

Schmidt 1994a, p. 6; Schmidt 1994b, illus. n.p.; Wagner 1994,

n.p.; Neue Sachlichkeit, exh. cat. 1995, p. 137, illus. p. 136;

Anonymous [Jeremy Adler] 1996, n.p.; Black 1996, n.p.;

Cohen 1996a, n.p., illus. n.p.; Cohen 1996c, illus. p. 62;

Österreichische Galerie Belvedere 1996, p. 40, illus. p. 41;

Tate Gallery, 1996, p. 501; Walsh 1996a, pp. 57 f.; Walsh 1996b,

illus. p. 38; Black 1997, p. 992; Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts, 1997,

p. 118, illus. p. 118; Das Jahrhundert der Frauen, exh. cat. 1999,

p. 138, illus. p. 138; Neufert 1999, illus. p. 183; Vorderwülbecke

1999, pp. 33, 38, 54, 56 f.n., illus. p. 74; Phillips 2001, p. 30;

Michel 2003, pp. 19 f.n., 21, 30, 40, 46, 58, 61 f., illus. Abb. 18

(col.); Lloyd 2004, p. 212; López Calatayud 2005, p. 14; McNeill

2005, illus. on cover (col.); Breidecker 2006a, n.p.; calendar

2006, published by the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere,

Vienna, illus. n.p. (February) (col.); Crüwell 2006c, n.p., illus.

n.p. (col.); B. Gries 2006, n.p.; Huther 2006a, n.p.; Huther

2006b, n.p.; Kneller 2006, n.p.; Orth 2006, n.p.; Sander 2006,

pp. 120 f.; Schlenker 2006b, pp. 206 f.; Schlenker 2006c, p. 54;

Schlenker 2006d, pp. 254, 261; Weiner 2006, n.p.; Lloyd 2007,

pp. 58 (Self-portrait with a Comb), 217; Michel 2007, p. 117,

illus. p. 116 (col.); Spiegler 2007, n.p.; Wiesauer 2007, n.p.

Fig. 47 Max Beckmann, Bildnis Käthe von Porada, 1924,

oil on canvas, 1200 × 430 mm (Städel Museum,

Frankfurt am Main)



Summer Landscape



Oil on canvas, 950 × 286 mm

Dated (bottom left): 1936 (overpainted)

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

This lively, sun-filled pastoral scene was

painted at Hinterbrühl, the Motesiczky family’s

summer retreat in the Wienerwald near

Vienna. The beautifully balanced composition

is divided into two sections of almost equal

size: the fields in the lower half of the picture

and the majestic trees in front of a bright

blue sky above. Three figures are involved in

haymaking: the two in the foreground are

building haystacks while one in the middle

distance seems to be cutting the grass with

an invisible scythe. In the background, behind

a row of trees, a horse-drawn cart with a load

of white sacks is driving along an avenue on

top of a little hill. The painting succinctly

captures the atmosphere of a rural idyll

during an undisturbed long, lazy summer in

the countryside, which Motesiczky so often

enjoyed. The hot weather – no cloud is

dulling the sky – promises a good hay harvest.

Although in her early career Motesiczky,

under the influence of Beckmann, frequently

used a vertical format (see for example Selfportrait

with Comb, 1926, no. 13), this particularly

tall and narrow example is unique.

sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Michael Jaffé, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, to

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 18 July 1986: ‘You may like

to know that Derek Hill came this morning; and he

shares my great admiration for your latest masterpiece

in portraiture. He liked a number of other things,

including a tall landscape which we were unable to

include in the hang for lack of space in our Gallery’


The Hague 1939; London 1985, no. 4, illus. p. 19 (col.), dated

1925; Cambridge 1986, no. 4, illus. p. 19 (col.), dated 1925.


Anonymous [1939], n.p.; Plakolm-Forsthuber 1994, p. 166;

Schmidt 1994a, p. 6; Vorderwülbecke 1999, pp. 31 f., illus. p. 69;

Lloyd 2006, pp. 36, 39, illus. p. 38 (col.).



Fräulein Engelhardt


Oil on canvas, 626 × 594 mm

Signed (bottom right): 1926 Motesiczky

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

Some time after the death of the artist’s father

in 1909, her mother Henriette von Motesiczky

employed an elderly Viennese lady called

Fräulein Engelhardt as a companion. In spring

1910, for example, Henriette von Motesiczky

and Fräulein Engelhardt travelled to Rome

together. Fräulein Engelhardt also kept

Henriette company when at home in Vienna

and Hinterbrühl. The artist remembered an

incident when Fräulein Engelhardt sat on an

unsafe straw armchair which collapsed; she

could not disentangle herself and, helplessly

startled yet also slightly amused, she cried:

‘I can’t get out of it’. 1

In her portrait, Fräulein Engelhardt is

safely placed on a solid reddish-brown leather

armchair with a high back. The table in front

of her, on which she is resting her arms, is

covered by a pink tablecloth. Pointing to a

small sprig of withered leaves on the table with

one forefinger of her wrinkled and arthritic

hands, she gazes pensively at the little still-life

in front of her. Yet, the half-closed eyelids

reveal nothing but dark and empty voids.

Detached from the strictly scraped-back grey

hair, this seemingly unseeing face gives the

impression of an impenetrable wooden mask.

Despite the year on the painting, Fräulein

Engelhardt has always been dated 1927 – the

only exception being the exhibition in 1939. It

is impossible to decide whether, as in several

other cases, Motesiczky added the signature

much later and incorrectly, or whether more

recent exhibitions made a mistake.


1 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti, undated:

Motesiczky archive.


The Hague 1939, no. 15, dated 1926; London 1985, no. 9, illus.

p. 65, dated 1927; Cambridge 1986, no. 9, illus. p. 65, dated

1927; Dublin 1988, no. 1, shown as Ms Engelhardt, 1927;

Manchester 1994, no. 5, dated 1927; Liverpool 2006, no. 9,

illus. p. 63 (col.); Frankfurt am Main 2006, no. 9, illus. p. 63

(col.); Vienna 2007, no. 9, illus. p. 63 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 9,

illus. p. 63 (col.); Southampton 2007, no. 9, illus. p. 63 (col.).


A.d.B. 1939, n.p.; Anonymous [1939], n.p.; Gruyter 1939, n.p.;

Veth 1939, n.p.; Winterbottom 1986, p. 11; Vann 1987, illus.

p. 14 (two details, 1 b/w, 1 col.); Fallon 1988, illus. n.p.; Pyle

1988, n.p.; Vorderwülbecke 1999, pp. 33 f., illus. p. 77; Dollen

2000, pp. 119, 235, illus. p. 232 (col.); Dollen 2002, pp. 1744 f.,

illus. p. 1744 (col.); Michel 2003, pp. 19 f.n., 22, 30, illus.

Abb. 21 (col.); López Calatayud 2005, p. 32; Sander 2006,

pp. 122 f.; Schlenker 2006c, p. 62; Sternburg 2006, n.p.



Portrait of a Russian Student

Porträt eines russischen Studenten


Oil on canvas, 828 × 542 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

The sitter for this portrait, which was probably

painted in Paris, is an unknown Russian

student whom the artist may have met through

her brother Karl who was, at the time, in

contact with Russian scholars like the writer

Fedor Stepun (1884–1965). Stiff, upright, and

formally dressed in white shirt and grey suit,

the sitter is positioned in front of a wall whose

yellowish-green paper seems to match the

colour of his outfit. The pink centres of the

light green circles are echoed by the pink

curtain on the right and by the lips of the sitter.

His thin figure supports a large head, crowned

by carefully combed blonde hair and bearing

an emaciated, serious look accentuated by

his pointed chin, hollow cheeks, a long,

straight nose and uncomfortably staring,

almond-shaped eyes (not unlike those of the

contemporary portraits Apache, 1926, no. 9, and

Hanni, Hinterbrühl, 1925, no. 8). A pronounced

artery on his forehead seems to testify to his

nervousness. His hands make curious movements

as if in the process of gesticulating

or just not knowing what to do. As in Model,

Vienna, 1929 and 1930 (nos 27 and 32), the background

is divided into two sections, the two

walls of a room, one lit by the light streaming

in from the window on the right, the other in

shadow, with the corner placed just behind

the sitter’s head.

The picture has been extended by about

4 cm both at the bottom and at the right side,

at an unknown date. Although Motesiczky

made the effort to continue the image, she

did not entirely succeed. The enlargement

of the trouser legs at the bottom does not fit

precisely. On the right, the area beyond the

pink curtain, which probably denotes a

window, has not been completed, especially

in the bottom right corner, where bare canvas

shows through.


Cambridge 1986, ex catalogue; Frankfurt am Main 2006,

no. 11, illus. p. 67 (col.); Vienna 2007, no. 11, illus. p. 67 (col.);

Passau 2007, no. 11, illus. p. 67 (col.); Southampton 2007,

no. 11, illus. p. 67 (col.).


López Calatayud 2005, p. 14 (Portrait of a Prussian Student);

Sander 2006, pp. 122 f.; Schlenker 2006c, p. 66.



Kröpfelsteig, Hinterbrühl


Oil on canvas, 614 × 572 mm

Signed (bottom right): 1927 Motesiczky

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

Kröpfelsteigstraße 42, at the end of the street

leading out of the village, was the address of

the large Motesiczky family estate in Hinterbrühl

(fig. 10). Built by Moritz Todesco, brother of the

artist’s maternal great-grandfather, the grand

Villa Todesco with its eighteen rooms stood

in vast grounds, complete with tennis court,

swimming pool, greenhouse and stables. In

this sunlit landscape Motesiczky depicts the

road that runs around the boundary of the

estate and gently winds up the hill to the

neighbouring village of Weissenbach. On the

left a short section of outer wall and screening

bushes can be glimpsed. The canvas is dominated

by the dense bank of foliage in varying

shades of green that makes up the forest on

the other side of the quiet country lane,

topped by the wooded foothills of the Kleiner

Anninger. Trees with thick foliage throw

delicate shadows on the empty road, while

the telegraph poles along the pavement are

bereft of wires and shadows and seem to

float above the ground.

In 1956, Motesiczky, who by then had

created a life for herself in England, sold the

grounds at the Kröpfelsteig (the villa had been

pulled down in the 1930s). An SOS-Kinderdorf

now occupies the site.

Kröpfelsteig, Hinterbrühl was probably

among the paintings which the artist’s

brother, Karl von Motesiczky, sent on to the

Netherlands from Vienna in 1938. During the

war it was stored in a factory belonging to the

artist’s Dutch relatives, located again in 1954

and, with the other works that survived the

war in this way, sent over to England.


London 1985, no. 8, illus. p. 22 (col.); Cambridge 1986, no. 8,

illus. p. 22 (col.); Vienna 1994, no. 5, illus. (col.); Manchester

1994, no. 4; Vienna 1995, no. 48, p. 308, illus. p. 146 (col.);

Liverpool 2006, no. 10, illus. p. 65 (col.); Frankfurt am Main

2006, no. 10, illus. p. 65 (col.); Vienna 2007, no. 10, illus.

p. 65 (col.); Southampton 2007, no. 10, illus. p. 65 (col.).


Moser 1992, p. 176; Schmidt 1994a, illus. p. 4; Michel 2003,

p. 16, illus. Abb. 8 (col.); Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, exh.

booklet 2006, n.p.; Sander 2006, pp. 128 f.; Schlenker 2006c,

p. 64.




Model in Frankfurt

Porträt Frau Ansberg, Frankfurt

c. 1927/8

Oil on canvas, 367 × 216 mm (sight)

Private collection, the Netherlands

Motesiczky chose an unusually tall and

narrow format for this portrait of her cleaner

in Frankfurt. It was painted around the time

when Motesiczky attended Max Beckmann’s

master-class at the Städelschule in 1927/8.

It is not clear whether the name of the sitter,

Frau Ansberg, is correct or, as Peter Black has

suggested, was simply made up by the artist

for an exhibition in 1994.

The austere and restrained mood of the

portrait is accentuated by the sitter’s sombre

black dress, her dark hair severely combed

back, her dark eyes and earrings. The firmly

closed straight mouth provides a faint touch

of colour. This freshening effect, however, is

counterbalanced by the furrowed forehead

which gives the face an expression that hovers

between disapproval and sorrow. As in Dwarf,

1928 (no. 22), Frau Ansberg’s slightly upturned

nose leaves the long and narrow nostrils clearly

visible. The sitter’s lengthened neck, which adds

an aura of haughtiness to the portrait, might

have been determined by the unusual format

of the canvas. Peter Black has highlighted the

influence that Egyptian mummy portraits may

have had on Model in Frankfurt. Motesiczky

would have been familiar with this kind of

depiction, as one was displayed in the family

residence and Vienna had a good collection.

According to the current owners of Model

in Frankfurt, Motesiczky herself did not like

the painting.

sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Jan Willem Salomonson to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

6 August 1992: ‘Ich verstehe nicht recht, wieso es

möglich war, dasz soviel Zeit verflosz ehe ich mich

dazu entschieden habe dir mit groszer Wärme zu

danken für das frühe, von uns beiden hoch geschätzte

Frankfurter Bildnis, das du uns mit liebenswürdiger

Grossmut – entgegen unserer auf Ankauf hinzielenden,

und auch so schon recht unbescheidenen Absicht –

einfach geschenkt hast! Vielleicht erklärt sich meine

zögerhafte Reaktion aus dem heimlichen Wunsch

erst noch sehen zu können wie das überaus feine,

vornehme und ausdrucksvolle Bildchen aus seinem

neuen, gleich in Auftrag gegebenen “Fenster” herausschaut.

Dazu brauchte es freilich einige Zeit, aber

glücklicherweise nicht viel und so steht dein Werk

heute bereits vor uns in einem hübschen Rahmen.

Dieser ist keineswegs einer solchen Art dasz du zu

befürchten brauchst, dasz er – wie du es selbst

ausdrückst – das Bild “weiter malt”. Er hat (und erfüllt

wie ich glaube) blosz die Aufgabe, dein gemaltes Bild

zu “verstehen”. Bereits während der kurzen Zeit, seit

Karins Londoner Reise, die das Bild bei uns verbringt,

spüre ich wie intensiv und häufig wir es betrachten

und nach mancher Lektüre und jedem Museumsbesuch

von neuem, und mit anderen Interessen,

ins Auge fassen.’


Artist; Karin and Jan Willem Salomonson (gift 1992).


Vienna 1994, no. 6, illus. (col.).


Tate Gallery, 1996, p. 501 (Portrait of Frau Ansberg,

Frankfurt, c. 1926/27); Lloyd 2007, p. 67.



Two Girls

Zwei Mädchen


Oil on canvas, 1150 × 610 mm

Dated (bottom right): 1927

Artist (lost)

This painting, now lost, was made in

Hinterbrühl, the Motesiczkys’ summer retreat

near Vienna, after the artist had attended

Max Beckmann’s master-class in Frankfurt

for a year. In its unusual oblong shape and

the austerity of the composition it clearly

shows her teacher’s influence and also bears

a close resemblance to Motesiczky’s At the

Dressmaker’s, 1930 (no. 35). Sadly, only a blackand-white

photograph survives of this work

showing two adolescent girls in a bare room.

One girl sits on a simple, narrow chaise longue

that projects into the picture plane with

extreme foreshortening. One leg stretched

out, the other tucked under it, she is naked

apart from a shift. Curiously, her head, which

appears too large and adult, does not fit

her body. Only the back of the second girl,

standing behind the chaise longue, is visible.

Half-dressed in a camisole, skirt and shoes,

she is looking at herself in a little mirror on the

back wall. She raises one hand as if arranging

her hair, which is tied back in a long ponytail.

Family tradition has it that one of the girls

in the picture was Anna Beschorner, the

sister of Hans Beschorner, the Motesiczkys’

Hinterbrühl chauffeur. In the summer of 1928

the painter Karl Tratt, a friend and fellow

Beckmann student, visited Motesiczky in

Hinterbrühl. It is said that he declined to paint

from these models since Motesiczky had

already done it. She, however, apparently did

not like the painting for its obvious debt to

Max Beckmann’s work. The date in the lower

right corner of the painting is incorrect and

was probably added later.


Michel 2003, pp. 28, 40, illus. Abb. 24; Lloyd 2007, p. 67.






Oil on canvas, 743 × 433 mm

Signed (bottom right): 1928 Motesiczky

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

In summer 1927 Motesiczky travelled in

Spain, visiting Seville, Granada and Madrid.

She was accompanied by relatives from

the Netherlands, Rak and Henk de Waal.

Motesiczky must have been fascinated by

the bullfights they attended during her visit.

A collection of postcards and photographs

of bullfights in the artist’s estate testify to her

lasting interest in bullfighting (fig. 48). Of one

she saw in El Puerto de Santa Maria, north of

Cadiz, she wrote excitedly to her mother:

Despite the bad bulls and bullfighters it

was really very strange and exciting. –

Sadly the bulls had more in common with

cows than with wild beasts and therefore

had to be enraged in a very cruel manner.

The spears that are plunged into the

bull’s back were filled with some sort of

fireworks which then began to burn and

make a bang in the bull’s back. One of

the bullfighters was wounded and thrown

in the air by the bull and further other

quaint sensations. The whole thing had

something of a dangerous Lustmord with

musical accompaniment. Nothing for

the faint-hearted. 1

The bullring shown in this painting is probably

the Plaza de Toros in Madrid, which the artist

must have visited. From her place on the

shady, cooler and more expensive side of the

arena, the artist shows an unusual, distorted

view of the circular bullring. In the late afternoon

the sun is very low, casting long shadows

and bringing out the triangular crenellations

on the roof. The audience fills the seats, waving

red and yellows flags. The focus of attention

is the drama unfolding in the bottom right

corner where, in the first phase of a traditional

bullfight, a mounted picador provokes the bull

in order to weaken him, plunging his first

banderilla into the beast’s shoulders. Two toreros

on foot, their colourful capes ready, wait to

join the fight once the bull is weaker still.

Fig. 48 Bullfight at the Plaza de Toros in Madrid,

postcard, 1920s (Motesiczky archive)


1 ‘Es war trotz der schlechten Stiere u. Stierkämpfer doch

sehr merkwürdig u. aufregend. – Leider hatten die Stiere

mehr Ähnlichkeit mit Kühen als mit wilden Bestien u.

mussten daher auf sehr grausame Art in Wut gebracht

werden. Es wurden in den Spiessen die man dem Stier in

den Rücken bort eine Art Feuerwerk getan welches dann

im Rücken des Stieres zu brennen u zu knallen begann.

Einer der Stierkämpfer wurde verwundet u. von dem Stier

in die Luft geworfen u. noch andere nette Sensationen.

Das ganze hatte etwas von gefährlichem Lustmord mit

Musikbegleitung. Nichts für zarte Nerven.’: Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky to Henriette von Motesiczky, [1927]:

Motesiczky archive.


The Hague 1939, shown as Arena; Cambridge 1986, ex

catalogue; Liverpool 2006, no. 12, illus. p. 69 (col.); Frankfurt

am Main 2006, no. 12, illus. p. 69 (col.); Vienna 2007, no. 12,

illus. p. 69 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 12, illus. p. 69 (col.);

Southampton 2007, no. 12, illus. p. 69 (col.).


A.d.B. 1939, n.p.; Michel 2003, p. 44, illus. Abb. 50 (col.);

Lloyd 2006, pp. 38, 41; Sander 2006, pp. 128 f.; Schlenker

2006c, p. 68; Schlenker 2006d, p. 254; Lloyd 2007, p. 74;

Wiesauer 2007, n.p.




Spanish Girl



Oil on canvas, 436 × 264 mm

Private collection, Switzerland

Sixty years after the creation of Spanish Girl

Motesiczky called the portrait ‘maybe (?) the

best head I have ever painted (and which we

rescued)’. 1 The portrait was among the paintings

the artist’s brother Karl von Motesiczky

sent on from Austria when she and her mother

had already left for the Netherlands. The sitter

is not in fact a native of Spain but a local

peasant girl from Mödling, a little town in the

Wienerwald south-west of Vienna close to the

village of Hinterbrühl where the Motesiczkys

habitually spent their summers. She is wearing

a Spanish head-dress which Motesiczky

brought back from her trip to Spain in 1927.

Apart from the alienating disguise and

exoticizing title (employed for example also

in Apache, 1926, no. 9), Motesiczky treats her

model straightforwardly and unsentimentally.

Large, dark eyes and marked black eyebrows

stand out in a face of placid and calm

immobility, in which one critic detected

a ‘sensuous assurance’. 2

sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Ursula Brentano to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

26 September 1969: ‘The “Spanish girl” from an Austrian

village, which Sophie has is so heart-rending in feeling,

understanding and you are a “super master” in colours,

well you are just an artist a true true one worth so much,

Pizchen, remember and realize this. You must paint.

You must, the world needs you, and you can surely

help us to think, reflect, and also you can aid in

calming and easing people; all this I’ve felt at times

through your pictures.’

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Milli [Kann?],

3 November 1988: ‘Etwa 40 Jahre habe ich, erst ein zwei

Bilder dann schliesslich 5 meiner besten Bilder Soph

zur Verfügung gestellt, wie eine Schwester, weil sie

die Bilder lieb gehabt hat und sie gut behandelt hat.

Schliesslich hat sie die Bilder gekauft für einen kleinen

Preis auf anraten von Percy … Diese Bilder sind das

Beste und zwar ein Viertel des Besten was ich in 60

Jahren Arbeit leisten konnte. Ich war eingeschrenkt

durch Mutter und C. und konnte nicht mer leisten.

Noch dazu sind die zwei wichtigsten Bilder von Mutter

– das grosse Portrat und der kurze Weg darunter …

die Spanierin (vielleicht (?) der beste Kopf den ich je

gemalt habe (und die wir retteten))’


1 ‘vielleicht (?) der beste Kopf den ich je gemalt habe (und

die wir retteten)’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Milli

[Kann?], 3 November 1988: Motesiczky archive.

2 Berryman 1985.


Artist; Sophie Brentano (purchased at 1967 exhibition);

Ursula Brentano (inherited).


The Hague 1939; London 1960, no. 2, dated 1926; Vienna 1966,

no. 3, illus.; Linz 1966, no. 3, illus.; Munich 1967, no. 3, illus.;

Bremen 1968, no. 3, illus.; London 1985, no. 10, illus. p. 23

(col.); Cambridge 1986, no. 10, illus. p. 23 (col.); Liverpool

2006, ex catalogue; Frankfurt am Main 2006, ex catalogue,

shown as Spanisches Mädchen; Vienna 2007, ex catalogue,

shown as Spanisches Mädchen; Passau 2007, ex catalogue;

Southampton 2007, ex catalogue.


Veth 1939, n.p.; Reifenberg 1966a, n.p.; d.w. 1968, n.p.;

Berryman 1985, p. 628; f.th. 1985, n.p.; Schmidt 1994a, p. 6;

Zimmermann 1994, illus. p. 131 (col.) (Spanisches Mädchen);

Michel 2003, p. 44, illus. Abb. 51 (col.) (Spanisches Mädchen);

López Calatayud 2005, p. 25; Black 2006, p. 57; Lloyd 2006,

pp. 38, 41, illus. p. 41 (col.) (Spanisches Mädchen); Schlenker

2006d, p. 254 (Spanisches Mädchen); Vinzent 2006, p. 159;

Lloyd 2007, pp. 67, 74, illus. fig. 15 (col.).




Zwerg, Hinterbrühl


Oil on canvas, 633 × 500 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

The sitter for this stern and magnificent halflength

portrait is believed to have been Karl

Mader or Moder, an inhabitant of Hinterbrühl,

the village in the Wienerwald south-west of

Vienna where the Motesiczky family regularly

spent their summers. Locals remember his

small stature, somewhat deformed hands and

speech difficulties. Among the various tasks

he carried out around the village were roadsweeping

and looking after animals. 1 The

simple, stylized planar construction of the

background is continued in the figure itself.

While the depiction of the clothes is not very

detailed, Motesiczky concentrates on the

sitter’s hands and face. Seated on a chair with

only the upper part of his body visible, thus

merely suggesting the continuation of stocky

legs, the dwarf has a commanding presence.

His chubby hands are resting on a walking

stick. The face, tilted slightly upwards, is dominated

by his sceptical expression. A marked

frown produces a wrinkle on his forehead,

already enlarged by a receding hairline. Red

cheeks and a light brown moustache surround

a prominent upturned nose with flared nostrils.

The circular white form intersected by a black

line behind the dwarf might be the back of

the chair or, as has been suggested, the sitter’s

straw hat with a black ribbon, hung on the

back of the chair. At once subdued and proudly

untamed, Motesiczky succeeds in expressing

a compassionate, subtle interest in the sitter.

Critics have praised Motesiczky’s ‘sensitive gift

for observation’ 2 and described this painting as

‘the artist’s most human portrait to that date’. 3


1 Walter Gleckner to Ines Schlenker, 27 June 2007:

Motesiczky archive.

2 ‘sensible Beobachtungsgabe’: Sterk 1966, p. 25.

3 Black 1994, p. 6.


Vienna 1966, no. 4, illus., shown as Zwerg; Linz 1966, no. 4,

illus., shown as Zwerg; Munich 1967, no. 4, illus., shown as

Zwerg; Bremen 1968, no. 4, illus., shown as Zwerg; London

1985, no. 11, illus. p. 67; Cambridge 1986, no. 11, illus. p. 67;

Dublin 1988, no. 3; Vienna 1994, no. 7, illus. (col.); Manchester

1994, no. 6; Vienna 1995, no. 47, p. 308, illus. p. 145 (col.);

Vienna 1999b, no. 126, p. 138 (Porträt eines Zwerges), illus.

p. 150 (col.); Liverpool 2006, no. 13, illus. p. 71 (col.); Frankfurt

am Main 2006, no. 13, illus. p. 71 (col.); Vienna 2007, no. 13,

illus. p. 71 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 13, illus. p. 71 (col.);

Southampton 2007, no. 13, illus. p. 71 (col.).


Freundlich 1966, n.p.; Helfgott 1966, n.p., illus. n.p.; Muschik

1966, n.p.; Pack 1966, n.p. (Zwerg); Reifenberg 1966a, n.p. (Der

Zwerg); Spiel 1966, n.p. (Zwerg); Sterk 1966, p. 25; Berryman

1985, p. 628; Feaver 1985, n.p.; Pyle 1988, n.p.; Black 1994,

p. 6; Tabor 1995, n.p. (Zwerg); Black 1997, p. 992 (The Dwarf);

Phillips 2001, p. 30; Michel 2003, p. 37, illus. Abb. 43 (col.);

López Calatayud 2005, pp. 25, 30–32; Black 2006, p. 57; Sander

2006, pp. 122 f.; Schlenker 2006c, p. 70; Sternburg 2006, n.p.;

Lloyd 2007, p. 67; Michel 2007, pp. 117 f.



Still-life with Monkey on Garden Bench

Stilleben mit Affe


Oil on canvas, 362 × 490 mm

Dated (bottom right): 1928

Private collection, the Netherlands

Painted at the family’s summer retreat in

Hinterbrühl, this still-life employs an unusual

prop, a stuffed toy monkey, sitting on a

wooden garden bench next to a striped cushion

on which pink and white roses are placed. The

bench’s four individual slats, on which the metal

armrest casts a marked shadow, dominate the

simple composition. With the palms of one

paw and the opposite foot turned towards the

viewer, the little monkey seems to be trying

to establish a connection. According to the

painting’s current owners, relatives of the

artist, the scene was painted in full daylight.

Due to the dominating hues of brown it is,

however, curiously dark, and only the three

roses provide a summery splash of colour.


Artist; Louise Rupé (c. 1930); Karin and Jan Willem

Salomonson (inherited).


Vienna 2007, no. 15, illus. p. 75 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 15,

illus. p. 75 (col.).


Schlenker 2006c, p. 74.



Portrait Karl von Motesiczky

Porträt Karl von Motesiczky


Oil on canvas, 484 × 323 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

The artist’s elder brother Karl von Motesiczky,

born in 1904, studied law in Vienna (1924–8),

philosophy in Heidelberg (1928–30) and theology

in Marburg and Berlin (1930–33) before following

the communist and psychoanalyst Wilhelm

Reich into exile in Oslo. During his time in

Germany Karl von Motesiczky was active in

the socialist students’ movement, giving

speeches at gatherings and writing for leftwing

journals. He also developed a lasting

interest in Communism. In this portrait,

which manages to convey both his seriousness

as a scholar and his political affiliation, Karl

von Motesiczky is engrossed in reading Das

Kapital by Karl Marx (the title is incorrectly

spelt with a ‘C’).

Marie-Louise and Karl von Motesiczky

enjoyed a close relationship full of warmth

and admiration for each other throughout

their lives. Over the years, the nature of their

relationship changed, as an undated drawing

of Karl von Motesiczky as St Christopher,

holding a staff and carrying a child on his back,

suggests (fig. 49); this was presumably painted

after the artist learned of her brother’s ceaseless

assistance for his Jewish friends and his

subsequent death in Auschwitz in 1943. In the

1920s the artist characterized her brother as

a politically interested intellectual with an

unquenchable thirst for knowledge, but the

later drawing shows him as a saintly saviour

of lives.


Vienna 2004b, illus. p. 30 (col.), shown as Karl Motesiczky;

Frankfurt am Main 2006, no. 14, illus. p. 73 (col.); Vienna 2007,

no. 14, illus. p. 73 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 14, illus. p. 73 (col.);

Southampton 2007, no. 14, illus. p. 73 (col.).


Rothländer 2000, illus. p. 9; Rothländer 2004a, p. 90, illus.

p. 91; Lloyd 2006, pp. 34 f.; Schlenker 2006c, p. 72; Wiesauer

2007, n.p.

Fig. 49 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, Karl as St Christopher, undated, charcoal and pastel on

paper, 280 × 425 mm (Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London)



Still-life with Cigarettes


Oil on canvas, 425 × 335 mm

Signed (bottom right): 1928 Motesiczky

Private collection, Amsterdam

This still-life seems to be arranged on the

armrest of a brownish-red studded leather

armchair, placed against a wall. Draped over

the armrest are a white cloth with a red cloth

on top, part of which reaches up the wall.

A piece of thick board or wood provides a

table for the objects: a white vase with a handle

holding a compact bunch of pinkish-white and

red chrysanthemums and dahlias and a small,

precariously balanced pile of four cigarettes

that jut out over the edge of the board.


Artist; Anna Leembruggen (purchased at 1939 exhibition);

Mirjam Kann.


The Hague 1939, no. 12; Liverpool 2006, no. 31, illus. p. 107

(col.), dated 1938/39, not shown.


A.d.B. 1939, n.p.



Portrait of Young Man in Red Cap

c. 1928

Oil on canvas, 502 × 330 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

This portrait of an unknown young man

was probably painted in Paris. Although he

apparently wears Western clothes, a brown

jacket over a shirt, his head is adorned with a

red cap reminiscent of a fez, the traditional felt

headgear in the Islamic countries of northern

Africa. Its golden tassle falls over his left ear.

His black hair and dark brown eyes seem to

underline his non-European origin. The

uniform beige background gives no further

clues as to his personal circumstances.



Model, Vienna

Modell in Wien


Oil on canvas, 375 × 283 mm

Signed (top left): 1929 Motesiczky

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

The unidentified sitter whom Motesiczky used

in at least two portraits (see Model, Vienna, 1930,

no. 32) was probably a professional model.

Employing a limited range of colours – grey,

black, light brown and beige – Motesiczky

produced a severe study of a young woman’s

head characterized by a round, flat face and

short black hair, curling at the back of her neck.

Her marked black eyebrows and dark eyes

contrast sharply with her light complexion. She

appears to be absent-minded and uninvolved

in her present occupation. Noticeably, as in the

other portrait of this model, the background is

divided into two halves of differing shades of

grey. In contrast to Model, Vienna, 1930, here,

with the light coming in from the right, the

lighter grey appears on the left.



Still-life with Scales

Stilleben mit Obst und Waage


Oil on canvas, 444 × 313 mm

Signed (bottom right): 1929 Motesiczky

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

Motesiczky presents a close-up view of an

arrangement of objects on a small table. The

background and the front edge of the table

in the foreground are a deep black colour,

providing a natural frame for the setting.

The exact centre of the still-life is taken up by

a pair of kitchen scales with a large clock-like

face, its one pointer indicating the weight of

the napkins placed on the tray. The scales are

standing on a white plate, surrounded by fruit

(presumably peaches and apricots) glowing

yellow, orange and red in the light that streams

in from the right. The half-full bottle of red

wine to the right of the plate has a matching

wrapping around its neck, and the wine is

reflected on the napkins behind the plate.

With this still-life Motesiczky created a serene

and balanced work.


London 1987, no. 49, illus.; Dublin 1988, no. 4; Vienna 2007,

no. 16, illus. p. 77 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 16, illus. p. 77 (col.);

Southampton 2007, no. 16, illus. p. 77 (col.).


Michel 2003, p. 37, illus. Abb. 42 (col.); López Calatayud 2005,

pp. 8 f., 12, 15, 19, 23, 25 f., illus. n.p. (full and numerous

details, col.); Lloyd 2007, p. 202; Melchart 2007, illus. n.p.




Henriette von Motesiczky – Portrait No. 1

Henriette von Motesiczky – Porträt Nr. 1


Oil on canvas, 447 × 463 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

The first portrait of the artist’s mother in oil is

an intimate study, showing a large, matronly,

dark-haired figure in her late forties. Henriette

von Motesiczky is, characteristically, reclining

in bed, something that, according to many

observers, she did frequently (fig. 50) – the

pastel Siesta, 1933 (p. 530), shows her enjoying

an afternoon nap. In 1938 for example, Herbert

Schey reported to his cousin Marie-Louise:

‘Yesterday I visited your mother for ¾ hour,

she was of course lying in bed.’ 1 At around

the time of the portrait’s creation Henriette,

not untypically, described how an emotional

anxiety made her retreat to bed for a week: ‘I am

now feeling a little better (i.e. my suffering was

only spiritual). I could not bring myself to do

anything for 8 days, I lay in bed from 2 in the

afternoon until the following day and was then

so tired and exhausted, like a dress, that lies in

a suitcase for 8 days.’ 2 This habit of retreating to

bed was started by Anna von Lieben, Henriette

von Motesiczky’s mother, whose treatment the

young Sigmund Freud had taken over in 1888

and recorded in Studies on Hysteria (where he

refers to Anna von Lieben as ‘Cäcilie M.’).

The portrait was probably painted in the

Motesiczky villa in Hinterbrühl where the

family habitually spent the summer. The sitter’s

bare arms indeed suggest hot weather, while

the angle of the light streaming in from the

left indicates late morning or early afternoon.

The portrait utilizes a subdued range of grey,

beige and pink tones, focusing on Henriette

von Motesiczky’s head which is supported by

a strong right arm. In contrast to the flat metal

uprights of the bedhead, the figure stands out

as almost three-dimensional, emphasized by

the sculptural fleshiness of her limbs and the

stark shadows. Her rosy cheeks and general

healthy glow contradict her sad expression

and the soulful dark eyes.

Fig. 50 Henriette von Motesiczky in bed, photograph, 1920s (Motesiczky archive)


1 ‘Gestern war ich auf ¾ Stunden bei Deiner Mutter, sie

lag natürlich im Bett.’: Herbert Schey to Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky, 23 February 1938: Motesiczky archive.

2 ‘Mir geht es nun auch wieder schon etwas besser (das

heißt mein Leiden war nur seelisch) Ich konnte mich

durch 8 Tage zu nichts bringen, lag von 2 Uhr Nachmittags

bis zum nechsten Tag im Bett und war dann so müde u.

zerschlagen, wie ein Kleid, das eben 8 Tage im Koffer liegt.’:

Henriette von Motesiczky to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

18 January [late 1920s]: Motesiczky archive.


Vienna 2004b, illus. p. 29 (col.), shown as Henriette v.

Motesiczky; Liverpool 2006, no. 17, illus. p. 79 (col.); Frankfurt

am Main 2006, no. 17, illus. p. 79 (col.); Vienna 2007, no. 17,

illus. p. 79 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 17, illus. p. 79 (col.);

Southampton 2007, no. 17, illus. p. 79 (col.).


Phillips 2001, p. 33; Michel 2003, p. 69, illus. Abb. 101 (col.)

(Erstes Bild der Mutter); Kneller 2006, n.p.; Lloyd 2006, pp. 40

f.; Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, exh. booklet 2006, n.p.; Sander

2006, pp. 122 f.; Schlenker 2006c, pp. 78, 88, 168; Schlenker

2006d, p. 255; illus. in Times Literary Supplement, 22 September

2006, p. 32 (col.); Lloyd 2007, p. 81; Wiesauer 2007, n.p.




The Balcony

Akt auf dem Balkon


Oil on canvas, 480 × 600 mm

Signed (bottom left): 1929 Motesiczky

Private collection, London

Together with an unidentified still-life, The

Balcony was the first painting Motesiczky

exhibited publicly, in 1933. Although the

sunbathing girl on the pink chaise longue is

in fact the artist herself (fig. 51), the painting

bears a neutral title that does not indicate

the model’s identity. The scene takes place

in the Villa Todesco in Hinterbrühl (fig. 52),

the village in the Wienerwald, south-west of

Vienna, where the Motesiczky family regularly

spent their summers. The artist’s room at the

villa opened onto a balcony overlooking the

garden, the hills and forests that belonged to

the large estate. With the help of an enormous

standing mirror that the artist placed on the

balcony, the work was created in the open air.

Unable to paint herself in the nude in a lying

position, the artist put together the individual

body parts on the canvas after viewing them

separately. The resulting body, with its elongated

and twisted legs, echoed by the folds of the

yellow scarf draped over the edge of the chaise

longue, stiff breasts and somewhat awkward

posture, has a slightly unreal, doll-like quality.

Extremely bright sunlight, from which the

artist is forced to shield her eyes, picks out

the figure on the pink chaise longue and the

balustrade with its pronounced heart-shaped

woodwork. The fact that the artist is not alone

but nevertheless safe from view is indicated

by the white kite bobbing around in the sky

behind the balcony. A similar flying object,

this time a balloon, graces the sky in Max

Beckmann’s Landschaft mit Luftballon, 1917

(fig. 53), a painting with which Motesiczky

may have been familiar.

Fig. 53 Max Beckmann, Landschaft mit Luftballon, 1917,

oil on canvas, 755 × 1005 mm (Museum Ludwig, Cologne)

Fig. 51 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky lying on a

chaise longue on the balcony of the Villa Todesco,

photograph, late 1920s (Motesiczky archive)

Fig. 52 Villa Todesco, view from the garden, photograph,

early 1900s (Motesickzy archive)


Artist; Ladislas Rice (purchased 1989).


Vienna 1933, no. 63, shown as Balkon; The Hague 1939;

London 1985, no. 12, illus. p. 26 (col.); Vienna 1994, no. 8,

illus. (col.); Manchester 1994, no. 7; Vienna 1999b, no. 129,

p. 139 (Der Balkon), illus. p. 154 (col.); Frankfurt am Main

2000; Liverpool 2006, no. 18, illus. p. 81 (col.).


A.d.B. 1939, n.p.; Veth 1939, n.p.; Feaver 1985, n.p.; Plakolm-

Forsthuber 1994, pp. 175–7, illus. p. 176 (col.) (Der Balkon);

Neue Sachlichkeit, exh. cat. 1995, p. 139; Smithson 1999, n.p.;

Vorderwülbecke 1999, p. 56 f.n., illus. p. 113; Michel 2003,

pp. 49 (Akt am Balkon), 61, 63 f., illus. Abb. 91 (col.); Lloyd 2006,

pp. 38, 40 f., 43; Schlenker 2006c, p. 80; Schlenker 2006d,

p. 255; Lloyd 2007, pp. 74 f., illus. fig. 17 (col.).




People on a Train

Late 1920s

Oil on canvas, 322 × 210 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

For this scene of two people on a train, left

unstretched by the artist and only recently put

on a stretcher, Motesiczky chose a narrow view

of the carriage’s interior. The foreground is

occupied by a white-haired, elegantly dressed

gentleman reading a newspaper. Behind him

a lady in a white coat, a brown hat perching

on top of her hair, glances out of the window.



Model, Vienna

Modell in Wien


Oil on canvas, 622 × 381 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

Painted the year after Model, Vienna, 1929 (no.

27), Motesiczky here recognizably depicts the

same unknown model characterized by a flat,

round face, dark eyes and eyebrows, and a

hairstyle with a side parting, smoothed back

hair and curls at the neck. Even the colour

scheme of grey and beige is similar to the

earlier version. In the 1929 painting we saw

only her head, but here we are presented with

a more comprehensive view of the model.

Seated with the upper part of her body bare, she

attempts with one arm to cover her stomach

protectively while the other, her hand resting

on her shoulder, ineffectively tries to shield

her breasts. The model appears to find the

situation awkward, a feeling that the shy

beginnings of a smile might want to overcome.

As in the other portrait of this model,

the background is divided into two halves of

differing shades of grey. In contrast to Model,

Vienna, 1929, here, with the light coming in

from the left, the lighter grey appears on

the right.



Model, Vienna

Modell in Wien


Oil on canvas, 495 × 606 mm

Signed (bottom right): Motesiczky 1930

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

According to the inscription on the back of the

canvas, ‘1. Akt’, this is the first nude Motesiczky

painted. While she had portrayed a semi-nude

that year, Model, Vienna (no. 32), this certainly

is the oldest surviving depiction of a complete

nude other than herself (see The Balcony, 1929,

no. 30). The model, probably a woman called

Distler whom Motesiczky found at the Academy

in Vienna, is reclining in a bed on her side,

propped up on a pillow. Motesiczky presents

a full frontal view of the elegantly curved, slim

body, adorned with a coral necklace. Only her

legs are covered from the knees down by a

duvet. Although her round face, severe hairstyle

and dark eyes are reminiscent of the

unidentified model who posed for the two

other portraits of Model, Vienna, 1929 (no. 27) and

1930 (no. 32), it is not possible to determine if

the same model was actually used for all three

paintings. The window in the background is

surrounded by the large leaves of a lime tree,

which the Motesiczkys had in their flat, among

which the back view of an unknown man

provides a mysterious presence. Motesiczky

leaves unexplained the reason for his being in

the room, as well as his relationship with the

model, thus creating a certain tension that

adds a secretive layer of meaning to the work.

Fig. 54 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky and friend in her studio

in Paris with Model, Vienna on the floor behind the easel,

photograph, c. 1930 (Motesiczky archive)


The Hague 1939; Berlin 1986, illus. p. 144, shown as Akt;

Oberhausen 1986, probably shown as Akt; Vienna 1986,

shown as Akt; Liverpool 2006, ex catalogue; Frankfurt am

Main 2006, ex catalogue.


Veth 1939, n.p.; López Calatayud 2005, p. 25.




Still-life with Photo

Stilleben mit Photographie


Oil on canvas, 817 × 490 mm

Signed (bottom right): 1930 Motesiczky

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

This still-life of seemingly haphazardly gathered

and wittily arranged personal objects in precarious

balance combines memories of carefree

summers in the country and a certain nostalgia

for a lost way of life. Working in the garden of

the family’s estate in Hinterbrühl, Motesiczky

gathered objects from inside the Villa Todesco,

by now closed up, which were suitable for

being painted in bright sunshine. From the

‘English corner’ of the drawing room she

selected a stool with a floral chintz cover (as

real flowers would have wilted in the sun).

Propped against the wall on the brightly

coloured cushion is a sepia photograph in a

golden frame, crowning the arrangement. A

graceful little wickerwork footrest sits underneath

the stool, a tennis ball balanced on top

of it. Distinct, dark shadows give shape and

solidity to the fragile equilibrium of the objects.

In the world economic crisis of the late

1920s the members of the Motesiczky family

lost substantial parts of their immense fortune.

They subsequently had to cut back dramatically

and went to live in the smaller Swiss chalet

on the estate. The villa, with its notoriously

uneven floors caused by the underground

stream on which it was built, had to be pulled

down in the 1930s. The family’s apparent security

was finally crushed in 1938 when the artist

and her mother were forced to flee the country.

The photograph is based loosely on a family

photograph from the 1860s, showing relatives

on her mother’s side who, sadly, cannot be

identified from the photograph. Alongside two

round vignettes of individual family members

this group photograph was proudly displayed

in the salon of the Villa Todesco, installed on

an elaborate wooden panel (fig. 55). Motesiczky

simplified the photograph by leaving out

several ancestors in the painted version.

Still-life with Photo had a special meaning

for the artist’s mother Henriette von Motesiczky,

who bought it from the exhibition at the Beaux

Arts Gallery in January 1960 for £ 94.10.0. In

an undated (and probably much later) poem

about the painting – included in the book of

Henriette von Motesiczky’s poems and

drawings that the artist created in memory

of her mother for friends and relatives in the

early 1980s – she had expressed her admiration

for the painting and nostalgia for the lost

world and the deception it held, captured by

the image:

Family Portrait

The hot bright rays of sun

The deep shadows of that time,

You could paint them in a picture

Now captured for eternity.

And you have forgotten nothing in it,

The picture of the people on the wall

How they all sat there like that,

Maybe that no one felt anything.

The old thick garden stool

Where tired feet used to rest,

What the picture means to me, only you

can judge

It captures the high spirits of youth.

Carefree living, laughter and some tears

When the tennis ball flew past

A scrap of colourful chintz could draw

it together

Into a world that perhaps betrayed us 1

Motesiczky was pleased with this painting and,

rather uncharacteristically, praised it: ‘every

inch of canvas has the right amount of colour,

thickness, transparency. There’s a great certainty.

That little stool has something terribly delicate

about it, and the shadows are very assured.’ 2

sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, undated manuscript: ‘In

“Still Life with Photo” (1930), every inch of canvas has

the right amount of colour, thickness, transparency.

There’s a great certainty. That little stool has something

terribly delicate about it, and the shadows are

very assured. This was in the family summer house,

Villa Todesco, south of Vienna. In the 1860s, there was

an Englishwoman and her great love, my great-greatuncle.

There was a hunting accident and the Prince

Fig. 55 Interior view of the salon at the Villa Todesco,

Hinterbrühl, with a display of family photographs,

photograph, undated (Motesiczky archive)

Lichtenstein was wounded. In the house the woman

went off with him and my great-great-uncle said goodbye

to the house with its big drawing room with its

English chintz, and my great-great-grandfather got it.

Around the time the picture was painted, there came

a tremendous fashion in Austria for things Victorian.

The seeds were already there in me. The Villa’s walls

were covered in real green chintz. I loved all these

things. The photograph is of my relations of the

1860s. Much later, my mother wrote a poem about

the painting, with a line, “When that little tennis ball

and a little bit of chintz could still reassemble a world

which perhaps betrayed us.”’


1 Familienbild

Die heissen lichten Sonnenstrahlen

Die tiefen Schatten jener Zeit,

Du könntest auf ein Bild sie mahlen

Nun eingefangen für die Ewigkeit.

Und nichts hast Du darauf vergessen,

Das Bild der Menschen an der Wand

Wie sie so alle dort gesessen,

Vielleicht das keiner was empfand.

Den alten dicken Gartenschemel

Wo müde Fusse einst geruht,

Was mir das Bild ist, kannst nur Du ermessen

Es liegt darin der Jugend Übermuth.

Sorgloses Leben, Lachen und ein Weinen

Wenn jener Tennisball vorüber flog


Ein Stückchen bunten Gins konnt’s noch vereinen

Zu einer Welt die uns vielleicht betrog

(Motesiczky archive)

2 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, undated manuscript:

Motesiczky archive.


Artist; Henriette von Motesiczky (purchased 1960); artist

(inherited 1978).


The Hague 1939; London 1960, no. 3, shown as Still life with

photograph, 1928; Vienna 1966, no. 5, illus.; Linz 1966, no. 5,

illus.; Munich 1967, no. 5, illus.; Bremen 1968, no. 5, illus.;

London 1985, no. 13, illus. p. 24 (col.); Cambridge 1986, no. 13,

illus. p. 24 (col.); London 1994, no. 56, illus. p. 27; Vienna 1994,

no. 9, illus. (col.); Manchester 1994, no. 8; Vienna 1995, no. 46,

p. 308, illus. p. 143 (col.); Vienna 1999b, no. 128, p. 138, illus.

p. 152 (col.); Vienna 2004b, illus. on cover (detail, col., mirror

image), also exh. poster; Liverpool 2006, no. 21, illus. p. 87

(col.); Frankfurt am Main 2006, no. 21, illus. p. 87 (col.); Vienna

2007, no. 21, illus. p. 87 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 21, illus. p. 87

(col.); Southampton 2007, no. 21, illus. p. 87 (col.).


Veth 1939, n.p.; Hodin 1966, illus. p. 47; Muschik 1966, n.p.;

Pack 1966, n.p.; Reifenberg 1966a, n.p. (Stilleben mit Photo);

Spiel 1966, n.p. (dated 1928); Winterbottom 1986, p. 11; Vann

1987, p. 16, illus. p. 1 (col.); Adler 1994, p. 18 (Stilleben mit

Photo); Black 1994, p. 9; G.F. 1994, n.p.; Salzburger Nachrichten,

9 April 1994, illus.; Tabor 1995, n.p.; Michel 2003, pp. 34, 49,

illus. Abb. 41 (col.); Lloyd 2004, pp. 205 f., illus. p. 204 (col.,

mirror image); illus. on cover of Die Gemeinde. Offizielles Organ

der Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde Wien, no. 568, November 2004

(detail, col., mirror image); Behr 2006, p. 561; R. Gries 2006,

n.p.; Held 2006, n.p.; Lloyd 2006, pp. 23–5, 28–31; Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky, exh. booklet 2006, n.p., illus. n.p. (col.); Sander

2006, pp. 126 f.; Schlenker 2006c, p. 86; Lloyd 2007, pp. 1, 7,

10, 17, 80, illus. fig. 1 (col.).



At the Dressmaker’s

Bei der Schneiderin


Oil on canvas, 1130 × 601 mm

Signed (bottom left): 1930 Motesiczky

The Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (PD.55–1993)

Writing from Paris in spring 1930, Motesiczky

reports happily on her achievements: ‘By the

way, I showed Becki [Max Beckmann] photos

of my paintings and he was rather pleased –

made progress he said – you know that I am

in a good mood because of it!! Also, the dressmaker

picture is now finished, thank God, and

when I come to Berlin I can start afresh.’ 1

Painted two years after attending Max

Beckmann’s master-class in Frankfurt, this fulllength

self-portrait still reveals the influence

of her teacher. Beckmann’s 1928 painting

Garderobe (fig. 56) bears a particularly close

resemblance in subject matter, style and

composition. Yet, while Beckmann depicts a

coquettish and provocative model, Motesiczky

characterizes herself as more reserved and

sceptical. Standing in front of a small dressing

area, an alcove in the room that can be separated

by a curtain, Motesiczky is trying on a

new white dress. She tentatively raises her left

arm. This seemingly unfinished movement

appears to be caught by a flash photograph, an

impression that is enhanced by the darkness of

the heavy shadows she casts and the surprised

expression on her face. The dressmaker, kneeling

beside her, is putting the finishing touches

to the skirt. A few cut-off pieces of fabric are

scattered on the floor. In an awkward attempt

at mirror-writing on the wall, letters spell out

the word ‘Salon’ in the top right corner.

Motesiczky gave a detailed account of the

painting’s conception:

I was secure in myself and in Beckmann’s

style. Of course, when one is young, one has

a lot of confidence that things will go well;

one doesn’t know how difficult it is. It is so

wonderful to have movement and stillness in

a picture. This painting … has a static movement.

As I stood with one arm held up, I didn’t

think ‘how marvellous’, but ‘that will do’. I

started in front of a mirror and undressed a bit

and thought ‘the arm like that is very nice and

now I make the little coral chain’. Beckmann

once said he loved Slavonic faces with high

cheek bones and eyes slanted upwards.

I looked into the mirror so long that at a

certain angle, the eyes really seemed slanted

upwards. Recently a friend, whose judgement

I value, said: ‘This picture is a simple statement

of youth.’ That made me very happy.

I think that unconsciously I was presenting

myself to the world. I didn’t take it as a case

study of a visit to the dressmaker; it is much

too final for that. 2

Visits to the dressmaker had always been part

of the artist’s life. Her annual expenditure on

clothes was extremely high, reaching 3,530

Marks in the period from October 1929 to

September 1930 out of a total 5,691 Marks she

had at her disposal – only 22 Marks were spent

on paint. While one might argue that such

scenes were typically female subject matter,

exploring themes of beauty and vanity, it

seems inappropriate to limit Motesiczky’s

version in such a way. The obligatory hand

mirror, hung on a nail on the wall, is not

being used to check the appearance of the

new garment. The fact that it also does not

show any reflection (Motesiczky used a similar

device in Self-portrait with Comb, 1926, no. 13)

hints at its relative unimportance and, on a

practical level, relegates it to a status of mere

accessory. In a less literal sense the mirror

must be read as a medium of self-reflection and

introspection – here, however, momentarily


In the memorial album for Henriette von

Motesiczky, the artist contrasts this painting with

the following poem of her mother’s, written in

May 1970 and entitled ‘Dem Andenken von

R.H.’ (‘In Memory of R.H.’). It commemorates

the late seamstress, who probably worked for

the dressmaker Kobermann based in the centre

of Vienna, whom Motesiczky patronized:

A bit of ash is

still there from the hands

that sewed this dress,

stitch by stitch

But then came the

grim reaper who

Fig. 56 Max Beckmann, Garderobe, 1928, oil on canvas,

810 × 605 mm (private collection)

mows down all life.

We would have the right

to be sad

Yet we laugh like

a small child

Because we are so far

from the truth. 3

The painting may also have inspired the writer

Iris Murdoch (1919–99), who knew Motesiczky

through their mutual friend Elias Canetti and

later commissioned a portrait from her (Iris

Murdoch, 1964, no. 193). According to Peter

Conradi, Murdoch’s biographer, the profession

of the character Nina, a dressmaker, in the novel

Flight from the Enchanter, published in 1956,

might have been suggested by this painting.

While Nina is a half-rhyme for the author’s wife

Veza, Elias Canetti himself can be detected in

the character of the mysterious Mischa Fox. 4

At the Dressmaker’s makes a brief but

anonymous appearance in the novel The Next

Big Thing by the English writer Anita Brookner,



who must have come across it during the

exhibition ‘Painting the Century. 101 Portrait

Masterpieces 1900–2000’ at the National

Portrait Gallery, London, in 2000. She describes

it as ‘an arresting image … of a dressmaker

pinning the skirt of an impassive client …

(black hair, dark eyes, prominent crimson

mouth, and bad-tempered expression)’. 5

The poet Christine McNeill was recently

inspired by the painting to write the following


At a Dressmaker’s, 1938

(after marie-louise von motesiczky)

The pins slide into the fabric

like bees into flowers.

I trust her knowledge of how it will look:

how my youth will fit into its classic lines.

Something in my belly melts at the thought

of a ballroom floor. In the mirror

I see chandelier lights

through an open door.

Last night he named all that was visible:

the moons of Jupiter, Cassiopeia, the Plough.

He offered me a cigarette.

Berlin, Vienna, Budapest …

Why have you raised your arm?

the dressmaker asks.

He talked about playing the saxophone.

Described its sound leaping over buildings.

I stared at my cigarette.

How strange that at the point of nearing the end

it glowed so fiercely.

We stood in the dark:

I wanted chiffon, silk –

the thumbprint of fireworks on my swirling skirt.

I drop my arm. Go over the scene in my head.

Look into the mirror.

See the bleached light of an oil-lamp

on the hands of a nun.

With each gunshot outside

her finger points at the name of a saint in a book.

In an adjacent bar

people dance to midday jazz.

The sound of the saxophone jumps over ruined


Berlin, Vienna, Budapest.

As each pin slides into the fabric

a door inside me shuts.

But the dressmaker says

it will look so fabulous. 6

The painting has a curious, still somewhat

unclear provenance. According to a statement

from the Beaux Arts Gallery, dated 10 February

1960, it was sold to Sophie Brentano, the artist’s

cousin, for £ 210.0.0 on 7 January 1960. By the

time of the exhibition in 1966 it was no longer

listed as being in a private collection and may

have been back in the artist’s possession.

Having offered the painting to the Städel in

Frankfurt, which declined it, Motesiczky lent it

to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge after

her solo exhibition there in 1986 and, happy

with the display, offered it as a gift, together

with the portrait of Philippe de Rothschild,

painted in 1986 (no. 287).

sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Klaus Gallwitz,

Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, undated:

‘Nun möchte ich an Sie lieber Dr Gallwitz eine Frage

stellen. Als Sie vor Jahren bei uns im Haus in London

waren haben Sie ein frühes Bild von mir gesehen. “Bei

der Schneiderin” Ich erinnere mich noch genau dass

Sie das Bild ich möchte sagen beinahe jubelnd mit

beiden Händen an die Wand hielten, denn wir waren

im Wohnzimmer und es war keine Staffelei vorhanden.

Es besteht für mich kein Zweifel dass es Ihnen

gefallen hat. Waren Sie bereit dieses Bild in das Staedel

aufzunehmen und an eine Stelle zu hängen an die es

hingehört, ohne jede Kosten … In dem Bild “bei der

Schneiderin” habe ich als ich es malte nicht an mich

sondern nur gedacht: ein schönes Bild zu malen. Aber

unbewusst und das ist mir jetzt erst klar geworden

habe ich alles was ich mit 26 Jahren war, dem

Beschauer dargeboten’

Michael Jaffé, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, to

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 18 July 1986: ‘You may like

to know that Derek Hill came this morning; and he

shares my great admiration for your latest masterpiece

in portraiture. He liked a number of other things,

including a tall landscape which we were unable to

include in the hang for lack of space in our Gallery;

and he liked the small Still Life with Strawberries 1982.

For that I could pass on to him the price from the list

which Michael Black has supplied. I should not be at

all surprised if there were not other sales of those

works which you are prepared to let go. Please keep

us in touch with the Phillipe de Rothschild portrait.

I think that of the many, many things which I admire

in the exhibition, that portrait and the early picture

of the dressmaker’s fitting are my favourites.’

Michael Jaffé, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, to

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 18 November 1988: ‘I was

very pleased to get your letter of 4 th November, with its

very generous offer to lend At the Dressmaker or Still

Life with Photo. I have discussed this offer with David

Scrase, and we should be delighted to show here on

loan from you At the Dressmaker, an early masterpiece

of your painting which we both particularly admire. It

would be a great pleasure to have it here at least during

my remaining period as Director, which comes to an

end at the end of September 1990.’

Michael Jaffé, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, to Marie-

Louise von Motesiczky, 19 January 1989: ‘You proposed

that the Fitzwilliam should have one of the wonderful

series of your mother, the still life with a photograph,

and a landscape besides At the Dressmaker, which we

hope may come to us soon to join Baron Philippe de

Rothschild which is already on our walls. We look

forward to displaying At the dressmaker … As to

bringing At the dressmaker here soon, I am telling

David Scrase to arrange collection at the first opportunity

that may be convenient to you, now that I have

your word that you do not require insurance here’

W.F. Northam, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, to

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 10 February 1989: ‘The

Museum’s Syndics, when they met recently, were

delighted to accept your most generous offer to let us

have on loan your painting At the Dressmaker, which

was greatly admired by all those present. The Syndics

noted that the loan is for the remaining period of

Professor Jaffe’s Directorship. We shall be both pleased

and honoured to be able to show such a masterpiece.’


Michael Jaffé, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, to Marie-

Louise von Motesiczky, 22 January 1990: ‘The Syndics at

their meeting on 22 January joined me in expressing

delight that the loan of your early masterpiece At the

Dressmaker is to continue here. You are most generous

in this decision. I am happier that it is not to leave

when I leave at the end of September.’

David Scrase, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, to

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 10 July 1993: ‘I am utterly

delighted at your generosity in giving us your two

pictures; they look so well here and I was so worried

that they might not have stayed – but now they will!

And we shall always have a bit of each end of Marie-

Louise’s career – I can not thank you sufficiently.’

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Simon Jervis, Fitzwilliam

Museum, Cambridge, 13 July 1993: ‘As you know

Professor Jaffé persuaded me to lend to the Fitzwilliam

Museum two of my paintings, At the dressmaker and

the portrait Phillip de Rothschild after the exhibition

of my works in Cambridge in 1985 arranged through

the good services of Peter Black. I have been happy

with the way they are displayed in the Fitzwilliam and

have decided to offer them as a gift if the Syndicate

will accept them. It would give me great pleasure to

know that my work will remain publicly accessible

and visited.’

Simon Jervis, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, to Marie-

Louise von Motesiczky, 23 July 1993: ‘The Syndics at their

meeting here on 19 th July were delighted to be offered

your impressive paintings At the Dressmaker’s and

Philippe de Rothschild as gifts to the Museum. They

accepted most gratefully and have asked me to convey

their thanks to you. I too am delighted by your

generosity; it is wonderful that these paintings will

now be part of our permanent collection.’

sources from the fitzwilliam museum,

cambridge, collection david scrase

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to David Scrase, Fitzwilliam

Museum, Cambridge, 11 July 1993: ‘This is just to tell that

I would like to make a present to the Fitzwilliam with

“The Dressmaker” and “Rothschild” and to thank you

for your incurigement’


1 ‘Im übrigen habe ich dem Becki Photos von meinen

Sachen gezeigt u. er war ganz zufrieden – hab Fortschritte

gemacht sagt er – Du weisst dass ich darüber guter Laune

bin!! Auch das Schneiderinnenbild ist jetzt Gott sei Dank

fertig u. wenn ich nach Berlin komm kann ich frisch

anfangen.’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Henriette von

Motesiczky, 17 March 1930 (postmark): Motesiczky archive.

2 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, undated manuscript:

Motesiczky archive.

3 Ein bischen Asche ist

noch da von den Händen

die dieses Kleid,

Stich für Stich genäht

Dann aber kam der

Sensenmann, der all

das Leben nieder meht.

Wir hätten das Recht

betrübt zu sein

Doch lachen wir wie

ein kleines Kind

Weil wir so weit

von der Waheit sind.

(Motesiczky archive)

4 Conradi 2001, pp. 389 f.

5 Brookner 2003, pp. 108 f. I thank Yukiko Kitamura for

this reference.

6 McNeill 2005, pp. 11 f.


Artist; Sophie Brentano (purchased at 1960 exhibition); artist

(probably not returned after 1966–8 exhibitions); Fitzwilliam

Museum (on loan since 1989, presented by the artist in 1993).


London 1960, no. 4, dated 1929; London 1964, no. 19, dated

1929; Vienna 1966, no. 6, illus.; Linz 1966, no. 6, illus.; Munich

1967, no. 6, illus.; Bremen 1968, no. 6, illus.; London 1985,

no. 14, illus. p. 25 (col.); Cambridge 1986, no. 14, illus. p. 25

(col.); Vienna 1994, no. 10, illus. (col.); Manchester 1994, no. 9,

illus. on cover; Vienna 1995, no. 49, p. 308, illus. p. 147 (col.);

Vienna 1999b, no. 127, p. 138, illus. p. 151 (col.); London 2000,

no. 1930, p. 116, illus. p. 117 (col.); Liverpool 2006, no. 20, illus.

p. 85 (col.); Frankfurt am Main 2006, no. 20, illus. p. 85 (col.);

Vienna 2007, no. 20, illus. p. 85 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 20,

illus. p. 85 (col.); Southampton 2007, no. 20, illus. p. 85 (col.).


Hart 1966, n.p.; Muschik 1966, n.p.; Pack 1966, n.p.; Reifenberg

1966a, n.p.; illus. in Süddeutsche Zeitung, 4 October 1967;

Dr. S. 1968, n.p.; Berryman 1985, p. 628; Taylor 1985, n.p., illus.

n.p.; Gaisbauer 1986, n.p.; Fallon 1987, n.p.; Vann 1987, p. 14,

illus. p. 16 (col.); Fallon 1988, n.p.; Adler 1994, p. 18; Black 1994,

illus. on cover; Fitzwilliam Museum, 1994, illus. p. 35; G.F.

1994, n.p.; Kruntorad 1994, n.p.; Packer 1994, n.p.; Plakolm-

Forsthuber 1994, p. 166 (Beim Schneider); Schmidt 1994a, p. 6;

Tabor 1995, n.p.; Anonymous [Jeremy Adler] 1996, n.p.; Fallon

1996, n.p.; Tate Gallery, 1996, p. 501 (At the Tailor); Black 1997,

p. 992; Borzello 1998, p. 139, illus. p. 140 (col.); Smithson

1999, n.p.; Vorderwülbecke 1999, pp. 37, 54 f.n., illus. p. 84;

Conradi 2001, p. 389; Phillips 2001, p. 30; Michel 2003, pp. 46

f., 49, 61, 65, 69, illus. Abb. 56 (col.); Lloyd 2004, p. 214 (Beim

Kleidermacher); Vann 2004, p. 100; Kitamura 2006, pp. 13, 23;

Kneller 2006, n.p.; Lloyd 2006, pp. 38 f.; Schlenker 2006c,

p. 84; Schlenker 2006d, p. 255; Sternburg 2006, n.p., illus. n.p.

(col.); Lloyd 2007, pp. 60, 71 f., 172, 211, 259 f.n., illus. fig. 16

(col.); Michel 2007, p. 118, illus. p. 117 (col.); Spiegler 2007,

n.p., illus. n.p.; Weinzierl 2007, illus. n.p.

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to David Scrase, Fitzwilliam

Museum, Cambridge, 24 July 1993: ‘But with out you and

your nice words and knowing that you are happy that

Rothschild and “At the dressmaker” will never leave

the Fitzwilliam Museum … I would be: very unhappy!’





Oil on canvas, 862 × 459 mm

Dated (bottom right): 1931

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

Probably the largest nude Motesiczky painted,

this is an unusually serious and slightly

laboured work. It has the air of a set task in

a life-class. Uneasy with being on display, the

unknown, probably professional, model adopts

a tense, stiffly upright posture in her chair.

Apart from her stockings, the top parts of

which are just visible, she is completely naked.

Her dense brown hair, held back with a slide

on one side, frames an anxious face in which

only the bright red lips stand out. Her eyes

are not engaging with the viewer but focusing

on something outside the realm of the picture.

Her right hand performs a curious gesture:

resting on one leg, it is pointing towards

the stomach in an awkward and probably

uncomfortable movement.

Fig. 57 Paula Modersohn-Becker, Halbakt einer sitzenden

Bäuerin, 1900, tempera on canvas, 817 × 537 mm (Bundesrepublik

Deutschland, Land Niedersachsen, Landkreis


It may have been paintings like this that

induced Max Beckmann to compare

Motesiczky’s work with that of the German

artist Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876–1907).

Motesiczky recollects how Beckmann, probably

while she attended his master-class in Frankfurt

in 1927/8, managed to boost her artistic selfconfidence

and inspire her with a few pointed

sentences: ‘“Paula Modersohn was the best

woman painter in Germany – well, you have

every chance of succeeding her.” A pause. “But

don’t get a swollen head, you aren’t there yet.”’ 1

Beckmann’s pupil subsequently took the

suggestion of direction and encouragement

on board. Modersohn-Becker’s Halbakt einer

sitzenden Bäuerin, 1900 (fig. 57), is particularly

striking in its stylistic links, its simplicity and

grandeur to this nude by Motesiczky.


1 Motesiczky 1984, p. 52.



Model with Parasol

Modell mit Sonnenschirm

c. 1932

Oil on canvas, 650 × 514 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

This half-length portrait of a young woman

reclining in a canvas deckchair captures an

intimate, leisurely moment. Completely at

ease, she gazes into the distance, basking in

the sunshine. A folded pink shawl, placed

beneath her head, acts as a cushion, providing

more comfort. Her right hand, resting nonchalantly

against her bosom, lightly holds a

parasol that partially protects her from the

warm sunshine. Motesiczky skilfully captures

the play of light and shade on the face and bare

arms of the model and on her sleeveless pale

green summer dress. The sitter’s identity has

not been discovered, nor was it possible to

establish whether she was a friend or relative

of the artist or a professional model, as the

impersonal title seems to suggest.






Oil on canvas, 472 × 718 mm

Signed (bottom left): 1936 Motesiczky

Private collection, Switzerland

In this close-up view of an ordinary domestic

scene, a chubby-cheeked blonde little girl,

probably Wilhelmine, the daughter of Hans

Beschorner, the Motesiczkys’ Hinterbrühl

chauffeur, is sitting at a table, expectantly

eyeing and pointing at the tray in front of her.

She is well dressed, wearing a pleated skirt and

a frilly blouse underneath her double-breasted

pink jacket. The tray, which appears to have a

rather irregular shape and was said to have

been the artist’s favourite, holds two napkins, a

white teapot, a shallow dish, a bowl of peaches,

plums and an apple, while a second large,

yellow apple that seems not to fit in the bowl

is placed next to it. Beside the girl, the second

chair is empty, waiting for her companion to

signal the beginning of the meal.

When the painting was first exhibited in

1939 it was shown under the Dutch title Snoepstertje,

referring to a girl who is fond of sweets.

In some documents and within the family,

the painting is sometimes referred to as Das

Wunschkind, the planned or wished-for child.

Motesiczky, herself childless, painted very few

portraits of children (see for example Child with

a Candle, Birthday Cake and Dog, 1990, no. 310).

She does, however, manage to portray this little

girl with the utmost empathy and affection. In

his introduction to the 1966 exhibition catalogue

Benno Reifenberg praised her depiction of

the girl as ‘worthy of a [Philipp Otto] Runge’. 1

Motesiczky may have been familiar with works

such as Frühstückstisch (blau) by Max Beckmann,

painted in 1934 (fig. 58), which shows a laid table

from a comparable viewpoint, albeit without

its human admirer. The painting certainly

expresses Motesiczky’s knowledge of Pierre

Bonnard’s depictions of similar scenes.

Curiously, the painting, which has always

been dated 1933 when exhibited, bears the

date 1936 in front of the signature. From the

surviving documents (variously containing

both dates) it is impossible to tell which was

the true year of creation. Of the two, 1933 seems

altogether more likely with the signature, as

in other instances, probably added later and


sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Charlotte Bondy to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, [1985]:

‘Und warum ist “die Jause” nicht in der Ausstellung –

hattest Du das nicht extra aus der Schweiz gekriegt?

Und es ist SO good – grade auch weil es das einzige

Kinderbild ist’


1 ‘wie es einem Runge Ehre gemacht hätte’: Reifenberg

1966a, n.p.


Artist; Ilse Leembruggen (before 1948); artist (gift after Ilse

Leembruggen’s death in 1961); Sophie Brentano; Ursula

Brentano (inherited).


The Hague 1939, shown as Snoepstertje; Vienna 1966, no. 7,

illus.; Linz 1966, no. 7, illus.; Munich 1967, no. 7, illus.; Bremen

1968, no. 7, illus.; London 1985, no. 17, illus. p. 27 (col.),

probably not shown; Cambridge 1986, no. 17, illus. p. 27 (col.);

Frankfurt am Main 2006, no. 25, illus. p. 95 (col.); Vienna 2007,

no. 25, illus. p. 95 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 25, illus. p. 95 (col.);

Southampton 2007, no. 25, illus. p. 95 (col.).


Anonymous [1939], n.p.; Gruyter 1939, n.p.; Veth 1939, n.p.;

Reifenberg 1966a, n.p.; Michel 2003, p. 51, illus. Abb. 64 (col.);

B. Gries 2006, illus. n.p. (detail); R. Gries 2006, n.p.; Huther

2006b, illus. n.p. (col.); Lloyd 2006, pp. 34 f.; Lloyd 2007, p. 39.

Fig. 58 Max Beckmann, Frühstückstisch (blau), 1934, oil on canvas, 400 × 1105 mm

(Galerie Jan Krugier & Cie, Geneva)




Still-life with Peaked Cap

Stilleben mit Schirmmütze


Oil on canvas, 223 × 440 mm

Richard Calvocoressi

Motesiczky presented this still-life as a gift to

Richard Calvocoressi, its current owner, after

her solo exhibition at the Goethe-Institut in

London in 1985 which he had organized. She

may have chosen this particular work for him

because he had occasionally admired the

painting and told the artist that it reminded

him of Arthur Schnitzler.

The three objects, arranged close together,

are reminiscent of the Austro-Hungarian

world of the Habsburg monarchy recreated in

the works by the author and playwright. In the

condensed compositional space, they take on

an almost monumental appearance, filling the

entire canvas. Cutting diagonally across the

picture plane lies a long branch from a rose

bush bearing white flowers in abundance.

Behind it, partially hidden by the leaves, rest

a blue peaked cap (of a soldier perhaps) and

a single yellow glove. It is not known if, with

the juxtaposition of these particular objects,

the artist, who would have been familiar with

Schnitzler’s works, attempted to allude to a

particular storyline or a specific literary figure.

They may refer to a more personal connection

with the person who wore the cap and glove

and brought flowers for a lady.


Artist; Richard Calvocoressi (gift after 1985 exhibition).



Still-life with Fruit, Vegetables and Knife

Stilleben mit Obst, Gemüse und Messer


Oil on canvas, 290 × 290 mm

Signed (bottom left): 1935 Motesiczky

Helmut Mark, Vienna

In this still-life with its strikingly vivid colours

Motesiczky adopts a close viewpoint. The

objects, arranged almost symmetrically, thus

appear monumental. A plate with a blue and

white pattern holds half of a large lemon, two

green peppers, a Mohnsemmel, a poppy-seed

bun, and a black-handled knife. The strong

sunlight coming in from the left casts marked

shadows on the plate, while the small lemon

and two red apples behind it remain in shadow.

The provenance of Still-life with Fruit,

Vegetables and Knife remains unclear. It surfaced

only recently, when it was sold at auction from

a private collection in the USA, in 2004.


Artist; private collection, USA; Helmut Mark (purchased 2004).


Still-life with Garden Tools


Oil on plywood, 418 × 534 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

By 1936, having lived and studied in Frankfurt,

Paris and Berlin, Motesiczky was back in her

native Austria, working quietly in her studio in

Vienna in the winter and at the family’s estate

in Hinterbrühl during the warmer part of the

year. This still-life was probably painted in the

late summer in Hinterbrühl, a place where

the focus was on outdoor activities. Set in an

ambiguous, almost abstract space, Motesiczky

allows a view of a small number of objects

that bear testament to her lifelong fondness

for gardens: a pair of garden gloves, secateurs,

a sprig with three large leaves and a bowl of

fruit, among which are plums and red and

green grapes, the light bouncing off each small

sphere. In this composition, Motesiczky brings

together the fruits of work in the garden and

some of the tools necessary to produce them.


López Calatayud 2005, p. 14.



Self-portrait with Straw Hat

Selbstporträt mit Strohhut


Oil on canvas, 554 × 385 mm

Signed (bottom right): Motesiczky (‘1937’ overpainted)

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

In Self-portrait with Straw Hat the artist

portrays herself dramatically in close-up,

setting up a confrontation with the viewer.

Her head is seen from below, resulting in

a gracefully elongated neck. Her large round

eyes and slightly open mouth give her a

surprised and questioning expression. She

is not holding a brush or another tool of her

trade, but an umbrella with a green handle.

Inspiration for this unconventional

self-portrait came from a painting by one of

Motesiczky’s favourite artists: Edouard Manet’s

Le Balcon of 1868 (fig. 59). Her teacher, Max

Beckmann, who also admired this painting,

was particularly interested in the fact that

Manet deliberately composed it using only two

colours, blue and green. 1 According to Peter

Black, Motesiczky explained that in Self-portrait

with Straw Hat ‘the touches of colour, the

surprising blue of the eyes, the green cravat

and parasol handle, mirror the colour accents

of cravat, parasol and fan in Manet’s Le balcon

painting’. 2

The painting received widely varying

responses, with critics remarking on

Motesiczky’s success in ‘capturing her meditative

nervousness in the clever lighting’ 3 and

the striking ‘large brown eyes that forlornly

and contemplatively gaze into the distance’. 4

Others see ‘a capricious person who was fully

aware of her delightful beauty’ 5 or wonder if

this portrait ‘could be the satisfying result of

an inspection of the self’. 6 Whether one experiences

Motesiczky as demure and delicate, or

self-assured and defiant, this self-portrait is

a testament to an honest introspection.

Dating this self-portrait, which was painted

in Hinterbrühl, is problematic. While earlier

exhibitions settled for 1933, the most recent

ones have dated it 1937. Records from the

Motesiczky archive are not conclusive and

the date ‘1937’ in front of the signature in the

bottom right corner of the painting has been

overpainted. The assured style of the painting

and the mature look of the sitter suggest that

the work was created in 1937.


1 Motesiczky 1984, p. 52.

2 Peter Black, draft catalogue entry, [1993]: Motesiczky


3 Pyle 1988.

4 ‘großen braunen Augen, die verloren, sinnend in die

Ferne blicken’: Aus der Meisterklasse Max Beckmanns,

exh. cat. 2000, p. 58.

5 ‘eine kapriziöse Person, die sich ihrer reizenden Schönheit

bewusst war’: Nicol 2000.

6 ‘könnte das befriedigende Ergebnis der Selbstbespiegelung

sein’: Plakolm-Forsthuber 1994, p. 168.


The Hague 1939, no. 20 or no. 24; London 1941, no. 5 (?);

London 1944b, no. 34, shown as Self-portrait with a Straw Hat;

Amsterdam 1952; The Hague 1952; Vienna 1966, no. 8, illus.,

dated 1933; Linz 1966, no. 8, illus., dated 1933; Munich 1967,

no. 8, illus., dated 1933; Bremen 1968, no. 8, illus., dated 1933;

Frankfurt am Main 1980, no. 71, dated 1933; London 1985,

no. 16, illus. p. 68, dated 1933; Cambridge 1986, no. 16, illus.

p. 68, dated 1933; Dublin 1988, no. 5, dated 1933; Vienna 1994,

no. 13, illus. (col.); Manchester 1994, no. 11; Frankfurt am

Main 2000, p. 58 (dated 1933), illus. p. 59 (col.); Permanent

collection, Museum des Expressiven Realismus, Schloß

Kißlegg, Kißlegg, Germany, January 2001–February 2005;

Liverpool 2006, no. 26, illus. on cover (detail) and p. 97 (both

col.); Frankfurt am Main 2006, no. 26, illus. on cover (detail)

and p. 97 (both col.); Vienna 2007, no. 26, illus. on cover

(detail) and p. 97 (both col.), also exh. poster; Passau 2007,

no. 26, illus. on cover (detail) and p. 97 (both col.); Southampton

2007, no. 26, illus. on cover (detail) and p. 97 (both col.).


Anonymous [1939], n.p.; Brandenburg 1952, n.p.; Engelman

1952, n.p.; H.v.C. 1952, n.p.; Veth 1952, n.p.; Reifenberg 1966a,

n.p. (dated 1933); Reifenberg 1966b, illus. p. 17; Albrecht 1968,

illus. n.p.; Dr. S. 1968, n.p.; Pyle 1988, n.p.; Koch 1994, p. 100;

Kruntorad 1994, n.p.; Packer 1994, n.p.; Plakolm-Forsthuber

1994, p. 168; Anonymous 1996b, illus. n.p.; Dollen 1997,

p. 1595, illus. p. 1594 (col.); Anonymous 2000b, illus. n.p.

(wrong caption); Crüwell 2000, n.p. (Selbstbildnis mit

Strohhut); Dollen 2000, pp. 187, 235, 237, illus. p. 234 (col.);

Nicol 2000, n.p.; Thomasius 2000, illus. n.p.; illus. in

Dreieich-Spiegel, 16 December 2000, p. 3; Michel 2003, p. 51,

illus. Abb. 62 (col.); Black 2006, illus. p. 57 (col., mirror image);

C.H. 2006, illus. n.p. (col.); Crüwell 2006a, illus. n.p. (detail,

col.); B. Gries 2006, n.p.; R. Gries 2006, n.p.; Huther 2006a,

n.p.; Huther 2006b, n.p.; Kneller 2006, n.p.; Sander 2006,

pp. 120 f.; Schlenker 2006c, p. 96; Weiner 2006, illus. n.p.

(col.); Borchhardt-Birbaumer 2007, illus. n.p.; Franke 2007,

illus. n.p. (detail); Lloyd 2007, p. 86; Melchart 2007, illus. n.p.;

Wiesauer 2007, illus. n.p.


Artist; Michael Croft (? – 1960s); artist; Miriam Rothschild

(late 1960s – 1980?); artist.

Fig. 59 Edouard Manet, Le Balcon, 1868, oil on canvas,

1700 × 1245 mm (Musée d’Orsay, Paris)




Woman and Musician


Oil on canvas, 611 × 562 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

Woman and Musician is an unusual painting

for Motesiczky in terms of colour, motif and

composition. It appears to depict a scene in a

fashionable bar or club. In the background, an

elegantly dressed musician with a red beard

plays an instrument that resembles a cello,

although it seems disproportionately small,

and the foreground is dominated by a pensive

young woman. She is wearing a fashionable,

asymmetrical black-and-mauve evening gown,

and a red hat sits coquettishly on the side

of her dark hair. Mauve eyeshadow and red

lipstick match her clothes. Perching on the

edge of a chair, she is leaning on what appears

to be the arm of a sofa. Head in hand, she

stares down at the empty seat in front of her.


Amsterdam 1952, shown as Café or Rendez-vous (?);

The Hague 1952, shown as Rendez-vous.


Brandenburg 1952, n.p.; Buys 1952, n.p.; Filarski 1952b, n.p.;

H.v.C. 1952, n.p.; Veth 1952, n.p. (?); Michel 2003, p. 40,

illus. Abb. 46 (col.) (Frau und Musiker).




Hilda, meine Milchschwester

c. 1937

Oil on canvas, 345 × 283 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

Hilda (or Hilde) was the daughter of Marie

Hauptmann, Motesiczky’s Bohemian wetnurse

and lifelong loyal family friend to whom

the artist paid a touching tribute in the posthumous

painting Marie in Doorway, after 1954

(no. 134). While working at her first job in Vienna,

the young Marie Hauptmann became pregnant

by the son of the house. When her illegitimate

daughter, Hilda, was born, probably in 1906,

she was given away and brought up by relatives.

Marie Hauptmann found a new position

in the Motesiczky household. The term ‘Milchschwester’

in the German title refers to the fact

that the babies Hilda and Marie-Louise shared

Marie Hauptmann’s milk, like real sisters.

Contact between Marie Hauptmann and Hilda

was not severed and family tradition has it

that, as children, Hilda would sometimes play

with Marie-Louise. After the artist and her

mother had left Austria in 1938, it seems that

Hilda managed to help and protect the artist’s

brother Karl on several occasions when he was

forced to fight the National Socialist regime

(for example in connection with the seizure of

the property in Hinterbrühl). Sadly, Hilda’s fate

is unknown. The family suspects that she died

during the Second World War, perhaps in the

bombing raid on Dresden in February 1945.

This small and informal study of Hilda’s

head shows a young and earnest, almost sad,

smooth oval face. Her eyes are unfocused and

she seems lost in thought. Unusually, the light

streams in from the right so that the right half

of Hilda’s face is cast in shadow. Her hair is

arranged in a severe style, revealing her ears.

The painting appears almost monochrome,

brightened only by a colourful scarf around

the sitter’s neck.

Hilda has sometimes been dated 1927, yet,

judging by the age of the sitter and the

markedly independent style, it is more likely

that the recent suggestion of c. 1937 is correct.


Dublin 1988, no. 2, dated 1927; Vienna 1994, no. 14, illus.

(col.); Manchester 1994, no. 12, shown as Hilda, Daughter of

my Wetnurse, 1937; Liverpool 2006, no. 27, illus. p. 99 (col.);

Frankfurt am Main 2006, no. 27, illus. p. 99 (col.); Vienna 2007,

no. 27, illus. p. 99 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 27, illus. p. 99 (col.);

Southampton 2007, no. 27, illus. p. 99 (col.).


López Calatayud 2005, p. 30 (Portrait of Hilda); R. Gries 2006,

n.p.; Sander 2006, pp. 122 f.; Schlenker 2006c, p. 98.



Frau Ziegler

Porträt Frau Ziegler



Frau Zischka

Porträt Frau Zischka


Oil on canvas, 305 × 241 mm

Dated (bottom right): 1938

Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna (LG 928)

Oil on canvas, 955 × 637 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

This portrait, one of the smallest works by

Motesiczky, depicts an elderly woman who

is said to have been a Viennese dressmaker.

It focuses entirely on the sitter’s head, which

almost fills the canvas, leaving hardly any background

visible. Her strong neck and large face,

full of character, stand out from the dark and

sombre colours, some wisps of grey curly hair,

a black hat and a brown coat, that surround it.

The date of the portrait has been variously

given as 1936 or 1938 and cannot be clarified

with any certainty. If the signature – not always

a reliable source of information in Motesiczky’s

case – is to be believed, 1938 is correct.

Frau Ziegler was shown in Motesiczky’s

exhibition at the Wiener Secession in 1966,

her first solo exhibition in her native Austria.

It was purchased by the Österreichische Galerie

in Schloß Belvedere in January 1967 for 20,000

Schillings. The artist recollects that ‘the

Belvedere bought the very smallest painting

for such a tiny sum that I straight away lost

it in a telephone box. The first money I had

earned … at sixty.’ 1


1 ‘das Belvedere hat das allerkleinste Bild gekauft um so

eine kleine Summe, daß ich sie sofort in einer Telefonzelle

verloren hab’. Mein erstes verdientes Geld … mit sechzig.’:

Gaisbauer/Janisch 1992, p. 173.


Artist; Österreichische Galerie Belvedere (purchased 1967).


Vienna 1966, no. 9, dated 1936; Linz 1966, no. 9, dated 1936;

Munich 1967, no. 9, dated 1936; Bremen 1968, no. 9, dated

1936; London 1985, no. 18, illus. p. 67, dated 1936; Vienna 1994,

no. 16, illus. (col.).


b. 1966, n.p.; Gaisbauer 1986, n.p.; Gaisbauer/Janisch 1992,

p. 173; Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts, 1997, p. 118, illus. p. 118;

Vorderwülbecke 1999, pp. 25, 54, 56 f.n., illus. p. 64; Schlenker

2006b, pp. 202, 205; Schlenker 2006d, p. 259.

According to one of Motesiczky’s address

books, Rosa Zischka last lived at Lichtensteinstraße

126 in Vienna. Frau Zischka, who is

believed to have worked in a Viennese bank,

probably befriended the Motesiczky family in

the 1930s. Contact was resumed after the war

when the artist’s mother, on holiday in Vienna,

repeatedly reported back to her daughter that

she had met Frau Zischka. Henriette von

Motesiczky, although eager for conversation

after her tranquil life in Amersham, did not

seem to enjoy Frau Zischka’s company very

much: on more than one occasion, she

described her as ‘very boring’. 1 In 1956 she

compared the model, who seems to have

temporarily lost weight, favourably with her

portrait: ‘Frau Zischka was also here, she looks

good and big again, as in your picture.’ 2

In the large portrait, painted the year the

artist and her mother left Austria, Frau Zischka

is shown seated in a red leather armchair in

front of a wall separated from the window on

the right by a cream-coloured curtain. She has

a monumental presence, her robust, middleaged

figure clad in a plain black dress, which

seems too tight in places. Her hands are gently

folded in her lap. Motesiczky seems to have

been especially pleased with them. In 1985, she

acknowledged the artistic influence of Dutch

old masters that shaped their creation: ‘The

hand on “Frau Zischka” would not have been

possible without F. Hals, and so many other

masters, small and very big like Ver Meer’. 3

Together with the multicoloured shawl covering

Frau Zischka’s hair, her sunlit face with a

worldly-wise yet resigned smile contrasts

dramatically with her solemn dress, which

dominates the simple yet very expressive

picture. Even Elias Canetti, having initially

disliked the portrait, which hung in the

hallway in the artist’s house, came to appreciate

it when he saw it in different surroundings at

Motesiczky’s exhibition in Munich in 1954.


sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Elias Canetti to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

17 September 1954: ‘Nun bin ich also in München,

wo ich vorgestern ankam. Als Erstes ging ich in die

Ausstellung, allerdings mit der Gretl, der ich nicht gut

nein sagen konnte. Ich war sehr glücklich darüber, es

sieht wunderschön aus. Die meisten Bilder kommen

gut zur Geltung; das Einzige, das wirklich schlecht

gehängt ist, ist die Georgette mit Bankert, das bemerkt

man kaum – aber vielleicht war kein anderer Platz. Das

sage ich nur, um einen Einwand zu machen, weil sonst

mein Lob falsch klingen könnte. Die Räume finde ich

ausgezeichnet. Kannst Du Dir vorstellen, wie mir

zumute war, sie alle wieder vorzufinden, in einer

neuen Nachbarschaft, so frisch und strahlend und Du

selbst dreimal als Porträt an der Wand, ich wenigstens

als Karikatur. Meine Überzeugungen über den höheren

Wert mancher Bilder im Vergleich zu andern haben

sich bestätigt. Aber manche Vorurteile habe ich doch

verloren. Die Zischka finde ich jetzt viel schöner. Ich

glaube, es war ihr Platz am Stiegenaufgang bei uns,

der sie mir verleidet hat.’

Daniele Grassi, typescript, c. 1986, p. 4: ‘Wenn man

“Frau Zischka” von 1938 mit dem “Arbeiter” von 1926

vergleicht, kann man den Weg ermessen, den Du

zurückgelegt hast in der luftigen Kompaktheit der

Volumen, der meisterhaften Brechung der Linie, der

beinahe sinnlichen Saftigkeit des Lichtes.’


1 ‘sehr fad’: Henriette von Motesiczky to Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky, 22 January 1953: Motesiczky archive.

2 ‘Frau Zischka war auch da, sie schaut wieder gut u. dick

aus, wie auf Deinem Bild.’: Henriette von Motesiczky to

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 14 March 1956: Motesiczky


3 ‘Die Hand auf “Frau Zischka” unmöglich ohne F. Hals,

und so viele andere Meister, Kleinere und ganz grosse wie

Ver Meer’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, notebook entry

for 5 May 1985: Motesiczky archive.


The Hague 1939, no. 22; Munich 1954, no. 105, shown as

Porträt Frau Z.; Vienna 1966, no. 11, illus.; Linz 1966, no. 11,

illus.; Munich 1967, no. 11, illus.; Bremen 1968, no. 11, illus.;

Frankfurt am Main 1980, no. 73; London 1985, no. 20, illus.

p. 31 (col.); Cambridge 1986, no. 20, illus. p. 31 (col.); Vienna

1994, no. 15, illus. (col.); Manchester 1994, no. 15; Frankfurt am

Main 2006, no. 28, illus. p. 101 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 28,

illus. p. 101 (col.); Southampton 2007, no. 28, illus. p. 101 (col.).


A.d.B. 1939, n.p.; Anonymous [1939], n.p.; Gruyter 1939, n.p.;

Veth 1939, n.p.; b. 1966, n.p.; Hart 1966, n.p.; Reifenberg

1966a, n.p.; Berryman 1985, p. 628; Calvocoressi 1985, p. 63;

Black 1994, pp. 6 f., illus. p. 7; Schmidt 1994a, p. 6; Vorderwülbecke

1999, pp. 38 f., illus. p. 89; Phillips 2001, p. 30; Michel

2003, p. 30, illus. Abb. 28 (col.); Canetti 2005b, illus. p. 84

(detail); López Calatayud 2005, p. 32 (Frau Zischa), illus. n.p.

(detail, col.); Wachinger 2005, illus. p. 92 (detail); Sander 2006,

pp. 122 f.; Schlenker 2006c, p. 100; Schlenker 2006d, illus.

p. 260; Lloyd 2007, illus. fig. 26 (detail).



Self-portrait with Red Hat

Selbstporträt mit rotem Hut


Oil and charcoal on canvas, 507 × 355 mm

Signed (top right): Motesiczky (‘1938’ overpainted)

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

This self-portrait, ‘perhaps the best known of

her works’, 1 has been shown in many exhibitions

and mentioned in numerous exhibition

reviews. It appeared on the cover of the 1985

Goethe-Institut exhibition catalogue and was

used on the accompanying poster. In 1996,

most obituaries also used this image which

has become something of a ‘trademark’ for

its encapsulation of Motesiczky’s artistic style

and the elegance and beauty of her persona.

The picture was painted at a time of great

political and personal turmoil, as Motesiczky

recalls: ‘Hitler marched into Austria, and the

next morning I went with mother to the family

in Holland … Mother felt very lost in the new

Dutch surroundings at Hilversum. I carried on

painting, Self-portrait with Red Hat, and other

things.’ 2 The artist, aged thirty-one, depicts

herself wearing a striking, stylish red hat, a

matching dress, with a contrasting lilac flower

brooch and a bracelet. The hat perches coquettishly

on her blonde hair at an angle. Her

slender left hand, which curiously has only four

fingers, delicately touches its brim as if slightly

correcting its position or self-consciously

holding it in place. The gesture could almost be

read as a farewell to the native country she was

forced to leave. Her large, dark, questioning

eyes and the small, slightly parted, bright-red

lips give her face the air of intense and

thoughtful self-observation. Yet attention is

diverted from the artist’s face by the mask-like

dark male profile, commemorating an

unnamed ‘flame who was not to be recognized’,

3 on the far right. The silhouette is

mysteriously leaning towards the artist, who

is shielded by the rim of her hat. Critics have

picked up on the contrast between the ‘impressive

elegance’ 4 of the ‘enchanting-sparkling

creature’ 5 and the ‘pensive, questioning’ 6

aspects of her facial expression. Generally,

however, this self-portrait seems to be

understood as a courageous statement of

self-affirmation and self-confidence, both as

a young woman and a painter, ready to take

on the world.

sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Elias Canetti to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 31 January

1952: ‘Dieser Brief wird Dich wahrscheinlich am Tag

vor der Eröffnung erreichen, und er soll Dir Glück

bringen. Alles wird gut gehen, ich verspreche es Dir.

Vergiss nicht, immer rechtzeitig ein bisschen Wein zu

trinken, aber nie zu viel. Für Leute wie Dich ist der

Wein ein Segen. Ich weiss nicht, ob Du schon den Mut

aufgebracht hast, den Kunstleuten zu sagen, dass das

frühe Selbstbildnis aus Privatbesitz ist. Aber ich erinnere

Dich daran, Tue es rechtzeitig, denn die Folgen

einer Nachlässigkeit in dieser Sache wären sehr ernste

Fig. 60 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky and Veza Canetti in

Motesiczky’s studio in Amersham with Self-portrait with Red

Hat, photograph, early 1940s (Motesiczky archive)



und ganz jenseits von meinem Willen und meiner

Macht. Schreib mir bald mehr. Ich habe mir einige

hundert Daumen angeschafft, um sie alle für Dich

zu halten, ich bin mit Daumen förmlich behängt,

ich trag einen Daumenrock – wenn das nichts nützt,

dann hätte nichts genützt. Aber es wird nützen.’

Fig. 61 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky in

front of Self-portrait with Red Hat in the

exhibition ‘Hampstead in the Thirties.

A Committed Decade’, Camden Arts

Centre, London, photograph, 1974

(Motesiczky archive)

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti, 17 August

1954: ‘heute war ich beim Direktor die Räume

endgültig bestimmen … sagte mir sehr schöne Dinge

über die Bilder – es sei eine starke Malerei u. echt u.

käme vom Herzen – von Ihrem Selbstporträt war er

hingerissen aber auch zum Glück von einigen anderen

… Er hasse sonst das süsse Lacheln der Österreicher

überhaupt die Wiener hasse er – aber dass, dass (auf

das Selbstporträt) gefiele ihm. Ich sagte da sei für der

Beckmann vielleicht ein gutes Gegengewicht gewesen.’


1 Phillips 2001, p. 31.

2 Motesiczky 1985, p. 13.

3 ‘Schwarm, der nicht erkannt werden sollte’: Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky quoted in Plakolm-Forsthuber 1994, p. 169.

4 ‘eindrucksvollen Eleganz’: Adler 1994, p. 18.

5 ‘bezaubernd-spritzigen Geschöpf’: Schmidt 1994a, p. 6.

6 ‘versonnenen, fragenden’: Zimmermann 1985.


Artist; Elias Canetti (1952? – early 1990s); artist.


The Hague 1939, no. 20 or no. 24; Amsterdam 1952; The

Hague 1952, no. 7 (?); Munich 1954, no. 106; London 1960,

no. 5, shown as Self-portrait with hat; Vienna 1966, no. 12, illus.

(col.); Linz 1966, no. 12, illus. (col.); Munich 1967, no. 12, illus.

(col.); Bremen 1968, no. 12, illus. (col.); London 1974, no. 87,

shown as Self-Portrait with a Red Hat; Frankfurt am Main

1980, no. 72; London 1985, no. 22, illus. on cover and p. 33

(both col.), also exh. poster; Cambridge 1986, no. 22, illus. on

cover and p. 33 (both col.); Vienna 1994, no. 18, illus. (col.);

Manchester 1994, no. 13; London 1994, no. 55, illus. p. 27 (col.);

Vienna 1999b, no. 130, p. 139 (Selbstbildnis mit rotem Hut), illus.

p. 153 (col.); Liverpool 2006, no. 29, illus. p. 103 (col.); Frankfurt

am Main 2006, no. 29, illus. p. 103 (col.); Vienna 2007, no. 29,

illus. p. 103 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 29, illus. p. 103 (col.);

Southampton 2007, no. 29, illus. p. 103 (col.).


Anonymous [1939], n.p., illus. n.p.; illus. in Het Vaderland,

21 January 1939; illus. in Vánoční Čtení, literary supplement of

Nového Československa, [December 1944]; Basoski 1952, n.p.;

Buys 1952, n.p., illus. n.p.; H.v.C. 1952, n.p.; Veth 1952, n.p.;

F.N. [Fritz Nemitz] [1954], n.p., illus. n.p.; Baldaß 1955,

p. 219, illus. p. 218; Motesiczky 1964, illus. n.p. (Selbstbildnis);

Freundlich 1966, n.p., illus. n.p.; Reifenberg 1966a, n.p.;

M.B. 1967, n.p.; illus. in Münchner Merkur and Oberbayerisches

Volksblatt (Rosenheim), 6 October 1967; Dr. S. 1968, n.p.;

Helmolt 1980, n.p., illus. n.p.; Malcor [1980], n.p.; Berryman

1985, p. 628; f.th. 1985, n.p. (Selbstbildnis mit rotem Hut);

Motesiczky 1985, p. 13; Schwab 1985, illus. p. 8; Zimmermann

1985, n.p., illus. n.p.; Anonymous 1986, illus. n.p.; Gaisbauer

1986, illus. n.p.; Hampstead Artists 1946–1986, exh. cat. 1986,

illus. p. 14; Fallon 1987, illus. n.p.; Adler 1994, p. 18; Anonymous

1994h, illus. n.p. (detail); Black 1994, p. 6; Gombrich 1994,

illus. p. 135 (col.); Koch 1994, p. 99; Kruntorad 1994, n.p.;

Packer 1994, illus. n.p. (col.); Plakolm-Forsthuber 1994, pp. 168

f., 177, illus. p. 169 (col.); Schmidt 1994a, p. 6; Neue Sachlichkeit,

exh. cat. 1995, illus. p. 139; Tabor 1995, illus. n.p.; Anonymous

[Jeremy Adler] 1996, n.p., illus. n.p.; Black 1996, illus. n.p.;

Fallon 1996, n.p.; Fellner/Nagler 1996, p. 14; Schmidt 1996,

illus. n.p.; Neuerwerbungen, exh. cat. 1999, p. 104; Smithson

1999, illus. n.p.; Phillips 2001, p. 31; Michel 2003, pp. 52, 58 f.,

illus. Abb. 68 (col.); Foster 2004, p. 143; Lloyd 2004, p. 216,

illus. p. 219 (detail); Vann 2004, p. 100, illus. p. 100 (col.);

Canetti 2005b, illus. p. 84; Canetti 2005d, illus. n.p. (col.);

López Calatayud 2005, pp. 9, 12, 16, 19 f., 26–8, 32, illus. n.p.

(full and numerous details, col.); Schlenker 2005, p. 134,

illus. p. 135; Wachinger 2005, illus. p. 92 (detail); Anonymous

2006, illus. n.p. (detail); Behr 2006, p. 561, illus. p. 561 (col.);

Breidecker 2006a, n.p., illus. n.p. (col.); Crüwell 2006b, illus.

n.p. (col.); Davies 2006a, n.p., illus. n.p.; R. Gries 2006, n.p.;

Klein 2006, illus. n.p. (detail); Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

exh. booklet 2006, n.p., illus. on cover and n.p. (both col.);

RC 2006, illus. n.p.; Sander 2006, pp. 120 f.; Schlenker 2006b,

pp. 194 f.; Schlenker 2006c, p. 102; Schlenker 2006d, p. 255,

illus. p. 259; Lloyd 2007, pp. 98 f., 115, 122, 149, 174, illus. on

cover (col.), fig. 20 (col.) and fig. 26 (detail).



Still-life with Sheep

Stilleben mit Schafen


Oil in canvas, 400 × 805 mm

Dated (bottom left): 1938

Tate, London (T04850)

This still-life was painted in the Hotel Pays-Bas

in Amsterdam where the artist and her mother

found refuge for a while after leaving Austria

in March 1938. The anonymous atmosphere of

the hotel room is made more familiar by the

arrangement of a still-life on an ironing board

that, according to the artist, had simply been

‘the most convenient surface available’. 1

Carefully covered with a white tablecloth, it

determines the unusual oblong shape of the

painting. The group of objects, painted in a

harmonious combination of yellow, blue and

white, is depicted with a startling immediacy

and seen from a strikingly close-up viewpoint.

A bright grapefruit, dark blue grapes, placed in

hollowed grapefruit halves, and yellow flowers

are displayed next to two eighteenth-century

enamelled Chinese cloisonné sheep. These

decorative animals, family heirlooms and

reminders of the Viennese home in the foreign

country, were among the few precious items

the artist managed to take with her from

Vienna. They stayed with her throughout her

life. In the artist’s estimation, the painting

probably took about three weeks to complete.

Its creation was motivated by the wish ‘to

paint something beautiful’ and the desire ‘to

paint and to dream’ and presumably forget

the immediate personal circumstances while

working on the painting. 2

sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Richard Morphet, Tate Gallery, London, to Marie-Louise

von Motesiczky, [1986]: ‘Your works in the Tate are

causing much interest & enjoyment to visitors.’

Elinor Verdemato to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

23 March 1988: ‘Eigentlich möchte ich Dir heute nur

gratulieren, denn von Peter hörte ich, daß Du 3 Bilder

nun in der Tate hängen hast. Das ist doch einfach

grossartig und so schön daß Du es erlebst!’


1 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Sean Rainbird, 27

November 1987, quoted in Tate Gallery, 1996, p. 502.

2 Ibid.


Artist; Tate Gallery (purchased 1986).


The Hague 1939; London 1985, no. 21, illus. p. 30 (col.);

Cambridge 1986, no. 21, illus. p. 30 (col.); London 1986c;

Vienna 1994, no. 17, illus. (col.); Manchester 1994, no. 14;

Liverpool 2006, no. 30, illus. p. 105 (col.); Frankfurt am Main

2006, no. 30, illus. p. 105 (col.); Vienna 2007, no. 30, illus.

p. 105 (col.); Passau 2007, no. 30, illus. p. 105 (col.);

Southampton 2007, no. 30, illus. p. 105 (col.).


Veth 1939, n.p.; Tate Gallery, 1986, n.p.; Fallon 1987, n.p.; Vann

1987, p. 15; Platt [1994], illus. p. 40 (detail); Tate Gallery, 1996,

pp. 502 f., illus. p. 502; Vorderwülbecke 1999, pp. 39, 54 f.n.,

56 f.n., illus. p. 91; Phillips 2001, p. 31; Michel 2003, pp. 52, 55,

illus. Abb. 67 (col.); Sander 2006, pp. 126 f.; Schlenker 2006b,

pp. 194 f., 204 f.; Schlenker 2006c, p. 104; Schlenker 2006d,

p. 260, illus. p. 261 (detail); Lloyd 2007, pp. 99, 207, 267 f.n.



Figures Walking to Church


Oil on canvas, 450 × 350 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

In this rare cityscape Motesiczky presents a

view of a large building on a square. It is

constructed from a pleasing mixture of red

brick and cream stone, adorned with green

shutters and a large green blind on the first

floor. The grey slate roof is topped by a small

tower. Trees obscure the view of the nearby

houses. The scene is empty apart from two

couples, one dressed in black, the other in

white, walking across the open space in front

of the building. It has been suggested that the

building is a church, but this seems unlikely.

Equally, it is not possible to establish in which

town or even which country the building is

located; Austria and the Netherlands have been


Some areas are left in a rather unfinished

state, with the bare canvas showing through in

places. This is particularly obvious around the

figures, where the charcoal underdrawing also

comes through, a technique the artist

employed early in her career.



The Travellers

Die Reisenden


Oil on canvas, 667 × 753 mm

Signed (centre bottom): Motesiczky 1940 (‘1941’ overpainted, probably originally Motesicky with z inserted later)

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, on permanent loan to the Scottish National Gallery of

Modern Art, Edinburgh

The Travellers, painted in a rented flat in

Adelaide Road, London, shortly after the artist

and her mother had arrived in England in 1939,

recalls Motesiczky’s experience of crossing the

Channel. A wooden barge is drifting helplessly

on a rough, stormy sea. No land is in sight and

there are no sails or oars to manoeuvre the

little vessel, which appears to have no specific

destination. The boat contains a group of four

inappropriately dressed, or naked, vulnerable

passengers. On the left, a woman with long

hair, who sits comfortably on a cushion, is

holding a large, ornate mirror in which she

inspects the reflection of her smiling face. 1

Next to her, a nude woman, adorned only with

some items of jewellery, is carrying an oblong

brown object which has been variously interpreted

as a missile, a giant cigar, a Torah scroll

or an urn containing the ashes of her lover.

The artist has explained that it is in fact a Wurst,

a large Austrian sausage. On the right a young

man is dangling his foot in the waves while

behind him a third woman gazes fearfully at

the dark sky.

Critics have attempted to identify the four

travellers as members of the Motesiczky

household (her nanny, her mother, her brother

or uncle and the artist herself ). While publicly

the artist was rather reluctant to give a full

and specific interpretation of the painting’s

content, privately she admitted that those

close to her served as models. However, as,

ultimately, the passengers are not intended

to represent individuals but types, the objects

on the boat should be seen symbolically as

items of great personal value that have been

gathered prior to a sudden departure.

The painting originates from the artist’s

own experience of exile which led her, first to

the Netherlands in 1938 immediately after the

Anschluß, and then to England the following

year, but it is more than an account of her

personal history. It attempts to express the

universal emotions of the sudden departure

for a forced journey into exile, coupled with

the desperate cheerfulness that made the

bitter seriousness of the situation bearable,

experienced by so many of her fellow emigrants.

In an undated document, Motesiczky describes

the mood of uncertainty she is trying to


The summer before the Nazi takeover,

we played tennis in the country and there

were Nazi groups passing by – ‘Sieg Heil,

Sieg Heil’. That put me into a fright like

an animal trying to escape. My mother and

I packed suitcases and left. In a painting

of mine, ‘The Travellers’ (1940), of naked

refugees in an open boat, I get the feeling

of the hectic craziness of it all, like something

out of Bosch’s picture ‘The Fools’

[fig. 62]. 2

In a depersonalization of the painting’s

content, which is typical of Motesiczky and

underlines the non-autobiographical nature

of the work, the title does not reveal the full

extent of its meaning. The painting has been

exhibited under various titles that hint at the

unreal quality of the image and at the fact of a

forced voyage: The Dream Boat (1941), Refugees.

A Dream (1944), Evacuatie (Evacuation; 1952)

and Die Barke der Flüchtigen (1954). In undated

private lists the artist sometimes referred to

the painting as The Emigrants, but by 1960 it

had acquired its present, neutral name which

leaves the identity and circumstances of the

people on the boat unclear, and lifts the work

into the realm of an allegory.

Fig. 62 Hieronymus Bosch, Ship of Fools, after 1491,

oil on panel, 580 × 320 mm (Musée du Louvre, Paris)


sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti, 20 August

1946: ‘Herr u. Frau Seidler Perlman waren zum

Nachtmahl da u. Dr Perlman hat mir optische

Teuschungen aufgezeichnet so das mir ganz schlecht

u. schwindlig wurde … Aber als er die Barke zu deuten

begann wurde es schrecklich banal u. ich war ganz

enttäuscht – lustig nur das er die Wurst für eine

Torarolle hielt – ich wollte nur ich hatte ihn dabei

gelassen! Aber ich war roh u. sagte nur ganz trocken,

nein das ist eine Wurst aber die Wurst ist die Torarolle

dieser Frau.’

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti, 14 August

1947 (postmark): ‘Am wenigsten gefielen ihm [Max

Beckmann] die Seidler und die Emmigrantenbarke.

Aber Morning in the Garden u. das Mädchen am

Feuer gefielen ihm sehr u. eigentlich auch fast alle

übrigen Sachen.’

Elias Canetti to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, 27 June

1950 (postmark), postcard of St Nicholas of Bari rebuking

the Tempest by Bicci di Lorenzo: ‘Hier ist ein frommes

Urbild zu Deiner “Barke”, nur fasst Deine weniger

Leute. Auch schmeissen die Leute ihre kostbaren

Pakete über Bord und statt an Würsten halten sie sich

an Gebeten fest. Das war auch eine fromme Malerei


Elias Canetti to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

11 September 1954, postcard of The Wherry of St Peter

by Taddeo Gaddi (Florence: The Spaniard’s Chapel):

‘Liebstes Muli, endlich eine Postkarte von Dir, wenn

auch kein Brief. Dafür kriegst Du eine schöne Barke.’

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Kurt Wettengl,

Historisches Museum, Frankfurt am Main, 3 February

1990: ‘Das Bild “The Travellers” stellt die Stimmung

dar, in der wir, meine Mutter und ich und viele andere

Emigranten waren; man wußte nicht, wohin die Reise

ging, man suchte um Visa nach Japan oder Amerika an,

hatte Lieblingsgegenstände mit sich, an denen man

festhielt. Zuweilen glich es einem Narrenschiff. Der

Preis des Bildes ist 10 000 Pfund.’


1 As a prop, Motesiczky is said to have used either the large

mirror in her room (Plakolm-Forsthuber 1994, pp. 193 f.)

or an elaborate porcelain mirror brought from Vienna.

2 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, undated manuscript:

Motesiczky archive.


Artist; Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust; lent

to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (2008).


London 1941, no. 14, shown as The Dream Boat; London 1944b,

no. 54, shown as Refugees. A Dream; Amsterdam 1952, shown

as Evacuatie; The Hague 1952; Munich 1954, no. 128, shown

as Die Barke der Fl chtigen; London 1960, no. 6, shown as

Travellers, 1942; Vienna 1966, no. 13, illus.; Linz 1966, no. 13,

illus.; Munich 1967, no. 13, illus.; Bremen 1968, no. 13, illus.;

London 1974, no. 88; Frankfurt am Main 1980, no. 74; London

1985, no. 23, illus. p. 70; Cambridge 1986, no. 23, illus. p. 70;

Vienna 1994, no. 19, illus. (col.); Manchester 1994, no. 16;

Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 60; Permanent collection,

Museum des Expressiven Realismus, Schloß Kißlegg, Kißlegg,

Germany, January 2001–February 2005; Liverpool 2006, no.

32, illus. p. 135 (col.); Frankfurt am Main 2006, no. 32, illus.

p. 135 (col.); Vienna 2007, no. 32, illus. p. 135 (col.); Passau

2007, no. 32, illus. p. 135 (col.); Southampton 2007, no. 32,

illus. p. 135 (col.).


Brandenburg 1952, n.p.; Petzet 1954, n.p. (Barke der Fl chtigen);

Baldaß 1955, p. 218 (Barke der Fl chtenden); Hodin 1961/2,

illus. p. 23; Anonymous [Victor Matejka] 1966, p. 15; Freundlich

1966, n.p.; Hart 1966, n.p.; Reifenberg 1966a, n.p.; Spiel 1966,

n.p., illus, n.p.; r-sch 1967, n.p.; d.w. 1968, n.p.; Dr. S. 1968,

n.p.; J.Wdt. 1968, n.p.; Malcor [1980], n.p.; Calvocoressi 1985,

p. 62; Taylor 1985, n.p.; Black 1994, p. 10; Cohen 1994, p. 94;

Plakolm-Forsthuber 1994, pp. 166, 193 f., illus. p. 193 (col.);

Schmidt 1994a, p. 7; Anonymous 1996b, n.p; Fallon 1996, n.p.;

Dollen 1997, p. 1595, illus. p. 1595 (col.); Vorderwülbecke 1999,

pp. 39–41, illus. p. 94; Dollen 2000, p. 236, illus. p. 67 (col.);

Phillips 2001, p. 31; Michel 2003, p. 53, illus. Abb. 69 (col.);

Dollen 2004, p. 133, illus. p. 135; Lloyd 2004, pp. 216 f.;

Rothländer 2004a, p. 348, illus. p. 348 (Exodus); Behr 2006,

pp. 561 f.; Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, exh. booklet 2006, n.p.,

illus. n.p. (col.); Marx 2006, n.p., illus. n.p. (col); Sander 2006,

pp. 124 f.; Schlenker 2006b, pp. 196 f.; Schlenker 2006c, p. 134;

Vinzent 2006, pp. 160 f., illus. on cover (detail) and after p. 387

(col.) (pl. 2); Lloyd 2007, p. 102, illus. fig. 22 (col.).





Frau Seidler


Oil on canvas, 1005 × 807 mm

Signed (bottom left): MM 1942

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, on permanent loan to

the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh

Presumably, the sitter of this portrait is Mary

or Marie Seidler, an opera singer who had

emigrated to England from Vienna before the

Second World War. Mary Seidler is believed

to have been Motesiczky’s landlady, probably

in 1939/40, when Motesiczky and her mother

lived at 76 Adelaide Road, London. She was

certainly a friend and a frequent visitor to the

Motesiczky house, as several diary entries and

letters suggest. According to Motesiczky, Frau

Seidler was a woman ‘who had lost virtually

everything’, 1 and she produced an appropriately

unglamorous portrait. By omission it

speaks of her non-Jewish husband, and of the

worldly goods and career the former opera

singer, who apparently never performed in

England, had left behind on the Continent.

The portrait shows a woman with a somewhat

resigned yet serene expression. Her large

figure, dressed completely in black, fills most

of the canvas. A white shawl is draped around

her shoulders. While her right hand lightly

touches a bright red necklace, her left hand lies

in her lap. Frau Seidler is seated in front of a

wall in an armchair covered in a green-brown

floral pattern. The wallpaper, of matching

colour, is adorned with a horizontal frieze of

which only a small part is visible. The overall

calming and reassuring aura of the sitter is

mirrored in Motesiczky’s writings. In the early

1940s, presumably during the Blitz, she noted:

‘This morning when I heard Frau Seidler’s

voice and she said “a wonderfully quiet night”

I thought an angel is speaking to me.’ 2 A few

years later, she recounted a dream in which

Frau Seidler, whose voice could be heard from

the neighbouring house, appeared as the

saviour, come to offer her help. 3

sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti, 14 August

1947 (postmark): ‘Am wenigsten gefielen ihm [Max

Beckmann] die Seidler und die Emmigrantenbarke.

Aber Morning in the Garden u. das Mädchen am

Feuer gefielen ihm sehr u. eigentlich auch fast alle

übrigen Sachen.’


1 ‘denen wirklich alles genommen wurde’: Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky, notebook entry for c. 1943: Motesiczky archive.

2 ‘Heute Früh als ich Frau Seidlers Stimme hörte u. sie sagte

“a wonderfully quiet night” glaubte ich ein Engel spricht

zu mir.’: Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti,

[early 1940s]: Motesiczky archive.

3 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti, 30 August

1945: Motesiczky archive.


Artist; Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust; lent

to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (2006).


Amsterdam 1952; The Hague 1952; Berlin 1986, shown as

Mrs Seidler; Oberhausen 1986, shown as Mrs Seidler, c. 1940;

London 1986b, shown as Mrs Seidler, c. 1940; Vienna 1986,

shown as Mrs Seidler, c. 1940; Dublin 1988, no. 6.


Engelman 1952, n.p.; H.v.C. 1952, n.p.; Dunne 1988, illus.

n.p.; Lloyd 2004, illus. p. 219; López Calatayud 2005, illus.

n.p. (detail, col.) (Frau Zischka); Canetti 2005b, illus. p. 84;

Wachinger 2005, illus. p. 92 (detail); Sander 2006, pp. 122 f.;

Schlenker 2006b, pp. 196 f., illus. pp. 197 (col.), 198 (detail);

Lloyd 2007, pp. 103, 122 (Portrait of Frau Seidler), illus. fig. 26




Girl by the Fire

Marie am Feuer


Oil on canvas, 510 × 762 mm

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

Marie Hauptmann, a shoemaker’s daughter

from Bohemia, spent most of her life working

for and living with the Motesiczky family. She

was a wet-nurse to Marie-Louise and subsequently

became a ‘second mother’ to the artist

(Motesiczky also made a portrait of Marie

Hauptmann’s daughter, Hilda, c. 1937, no. 44). In

1939 Marie followed the Motesiczkys to England

where she died in March 1954, aged sixty-nine.

In this painting, somewhat misleadingly

titled since the figure is obviously a grown

woman, Marie Hauptmann is depicted tending

a wildly smoking bonfire in the large garden

which surrounded the Motesiczkys’ house in

Amersham. Marie Hauptmann’s features are

not defined clearly enough to be recognizable,

but the solid figure, the working clothes and

especially the brightly coloured headscarf,

which the artist had enjoyed buying for her,

identify her beyond doubt. The painting has a

rough, sketchy, almost primitive and unfinished

air which prompted one critic to

compare Marie Hauptmann to ‘a Native American

squaw’. 1 Elias Canetti, who saw Marie

Hauptmann as an integral part of the artist’s

life and of his own, and admired her unwavering

uprightness and sincerity, liked her

portrayal in this painting. The painting as a

whole was, he thought, not entirely successful

but Marie Hauptmann was just as she should

be. One day, he hoped, Motesiczky would paint

another, bigger portrait of her. 2 She could be

seen as taking up his suggestion in the painting

Marie in Doorway, made after Marie

Hauptmann’s death (no. 134), which again

places her in a garden setting (fig. 63).


1 Phillips 2001, p. 31.

2 Elias Canetti to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, [1946]:

Motesiczky archive.


London 1944b, no. 39, shown as Bonre; Vienna 1966, no. 14;

Linz 1966, no. 14; Munich 1967, no. 14; Bremen 1968, no. 14;

Liverpool 2006, no. 33, illus. p. 137 (col.).


Hart 1966, n.p.; Phillips 2001, p. 31; Schlenker 2006c, p. 136.

Fig. 63 Marie Hauptmann serving tea in the

garden in Amersham, photograph, early 1940s

(Motesiczky archive)



Still-life with Gong

Stilleben mit Gong


Oil on canvas, 420 × 610 mm

Signed (bottom left): Motesiczky (originally Motesicky with z inserted later)

Private collection, London

Painted during the austerity of the war years

in Amersham, this harmoniously coloured

still-life utilizes everyday objects from the

Motesiczkys’ Viennese household, brought

over to England: a gong with a wooden handle,

which used to be rung for dinner, with its two

red drumsticks, and a bunch of nasturtiums,

undoubtedly homegrown, arranged in an

unusual, shallow Norwegian vase shaped like

a duck. The objects’ surroundings are too

vaguely sketched to be identifiable but it has

been suggested that they represent a partially

visible map. The juxtaposition of these two

(at first sight unrelated) items surprised, yet

convinced, a contemporary critic. He praised

the musical instrument ‘that has nothing

to do’ in the picture, for ‘creating a complete

compositional unity’. 1

A 1966 photograph 2 shows that the signature

had originally read ‘Motesicky’, a simplification

of the artist’s name that must have been difficult

to remember, let alone pronounce. This little

trick was probably employed in an effort to

make her name more accessible to prospective

buyers of her work. Signatures on other

paintings, for example Countess with Plum,

1944 (no. 65), and Three Heads, 1944 (no. 69),

also had the ‘z’ inserted at a later stage. It is

unclear when exactly the artist overpainted

the signature.


1 ‘in dem das Instrument nichts verloren hat, aber

vollkommene kompositorische Einheit schafft’: f.th. 1985.

2 Hodin 1966, p. 47.


Artist; Eva and Jeremy Adler (gift mid-1980s).


London 1944b, no. 46; Amsterdam 1952; The Hague 1952;

Munich 1954, no. 110; London 1960, no. 12, shown as Still life

with nasturtiums, 1945; London 1985, no. 24, illus. p. 30 (col.);

Cambridge 1986, no. 24, illus. p. 30 (col.); London 1987,

no. 50, shown as Still Life with Nasturtiums.


H.v.C. 1952, n.p.; Hodin 1966, illus. p. 47; f.th. 1985, n.p.;

Vinzent 2006, p. 159, illus. p. 382; Lloyd 2007, p. 202.



Mrs Beazly

c. 1941

Oil on canvas, 510 × 407 mm

Signed (top left): mote….. (overpainted)

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

This is a portrait of an elderly woman called

Mrs Beazly. Unfortunately, apart from her

last name, nothing else is known about this

sitter with a decidedly manly appearance who

might have been the Motesiczkys’ cleaner in

Amersham. A striking face on a strong, short

neck emerges from the bright green blouse,

characterized by wrinkles on her forehead and

deep lines running from the nose to the sides

of the thin-lipped mouth. Her short brown

hair is cut in a jaunty, unfeminine style. As in

After the Ball, 1949 (no. 87), Motesiczky introduces

an oversized left hand which acts almost

like a barrier between viewer and model.

The signature in this portrait is particularly

interesting. While Motesiczky experimented

with simplifications of her rather complicated

surname in some works (for example, she

used the slightly more memorable ‘Motesicky’

in Countess with Plum, 1944, no. 65 – only to

correct it later), here she signed with only part

of her name and a few dots. Yet, apparently

unsatisfied with this solution, she partially

overpainted the signature at a later date.



Self-portrait in Green

Selbstporträt in Grün


Oil on canvas, 406 × 304 mm

Signed (bottom right): Motesiczky

Mirli and Daniele Grassi, Belgium

In 1942, Motesiczky and her mother were living

in the relative security of rural Amersham,

having escaped the London Blitz. The artist’s

long affair with the writer Elias Canetti was

in its first, intense phase. This self-portrait,

in which the artist seems to take a close,

investigative look at herself in these new

circumstances, is particularly striking for two

reasons. First, her head fills the entire canvas.

There are no distractions from the face, such

as a hat with which the artist often covered her

hair. Second, Motesiczky’s exciting and effusive

use of the colour green, for her hair, her face

and her clothes, creates a daring and unusual

image, emphasized by the contrasting red

highlights on the eyelids and the slightly open

mouth. Several critics have remarked on the

artist’s ‘enormous questioning eyes’, 1 yet seem

unable to decide whether they express sadness,

amazement or alarm. The ultimate accolade

for this self-portrait came from a critic in 1966,

who praised it as one of Motesiczky’s ‘perfect

paintings’. 2

Self-portrait in Green was exhibited at the

Czechoslovak Institute in autumn 1944. Oskar

Kokoschka, a friend of the Motesiczky family

from the Vienna days, approached the director

of the Tate Gallery, John Rothenstein, enquiring

if a painting from the exhibition might be

accepted by the museum. Unfortunately, the

offer was ultimately declined, despite the fact

that John Rothenstein had included Self-portrait

in Green on his list of works to be considered

for acquisition. 3


1 ‘riesigen fragenden Augen’: Baldaß 1955, p. 219.

2 ‘vollkommene Bilder’: Tassié 1966.

3 John Rothenstein to Oskar Kokoschka, 16 October 1944:

Motesiczky archive.


Artist; Nell Clegg (gift 1940s); artist (probably not returned

after 1966 exhibitions); Gretl Rupé (purchased at 1967

exhibition); Mirli and Daniele Grassi (inherited 2000).


London 1944b, no. 38; Munich 1954, no. 115, shown as

Selbstporträt; London 1960, no. 7, shown as Self-portrait, 1943;

Vienna 1966, no. 17; Linz 1966, no. 17; Munich 1967, no. 17;

Bremen 1968, no. 17; Vienna 1994, no. 21, illus. (col.); Liverpool

2006, no. 35, illus. p. 141 (col.); Frankfurt am Main 2006,

no. 35, illus. p. 141 (col.); Vienna 2007, no. 35, illus. p. 141 (col.);

Passau 2007, no. 35, illus. p. 141 (col.); Southampton 2007,

no. 35, illus. p. 141 (col.).


Yapou 1944, p. 319; Baldaß 1955, p. 219; Hodin 1960, illus. p. 7

(Self portrait, 1943); Reifenberg 1966a, n.p.; Tassié 1966, n.p.;

Dr. S. 1968, n.p.; Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, exh. cat. 1985,

illus. p. 58; Koch 1994, p. 100; Kruntorad 1994, n.p.; Plakolm-

Forsthuber 1994, p. 168 (Selbstbildnis in Grün); Schmidt 1994a,

p. 7; Neuerwerbungen, exh. cat. 1999, p. 104; Michel 2003,

pp. 59, 70, illus. Abb. 83 (col.); Crüwell 2006b, n.p.; R. Gries

2006, n.p.; Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, exh. booklet 2006,

n.p.; Vinzent 2006, p. 159, illus. p. 381; Lloyd 2007, p. 115.



Still-life with Pansies

Stilleben mit Stiefmütterchen


Oil on canvas, dimensions unknown

Signed (bottom right): Motesiczky. 42

Location unknown

It has not been possible to establish the current

location of this still-life. According to an index

card in the artist’s estate it was ‘bought by

Eric Newton, Amersham, for his mother’. Eric

Newton, whose review, ‘The Eye-Witness

Painter’, of Motesiczky’s exhibition at the

Czechoslovak Institute in 1944, where the

painting was shown, was published in the

Sunday Times on 8 October 1944, may have

purchased the painting from the exhibition.

A black-and-white photograph of the

painting survives in the artist’s archive, but is,

unfortunately, not easy to decipher. A small

bouquet of pansies in a bulbous glass vase is

placed on what appears to be writing material,

perhaps an open writing case (a leather version

belonging to the artist’s mother has survived in

the Motesiczky archive). On the left, envelopes

and perhaps a stamp can be made out, while

on the right a long white quill covers what

might be letter paper.


Artist; Eric Newton, Amersham (probably purchased in

the 1940s).


London 1942, no. 94, shown as Pansies, included as Pansies,

no. 38, in the exhibition after the London showing; London

1944b, no. 45.



Still-life with Apples

Stilleben mit Äpfeln


Oil on canvas, 510 × 760 mm

Signed (top right): marie louise m.

Private collection, Switzerland

This still-life has all the charm of not being

artificially assembled. Its simple and casual

arrangement looks as natural as if the painting

really depicted a table in the Motesiczky

house that was used for all sorts of purposes.

A selection of everyday objects are gathered

on a small table, which is partly and crookedly

covered by a white tablecloth. On an oval metal

tray, with little feet and an intricately patterned

rim, stand two inkpots, one holding a quill.

Behind these writing accessories, two piles of

books are arranged, closed ones underneath

and open ones on top. Four yellow and red

apples, two with leaves on their stalks, lie in a

line that loosely marks the middle of the table.

The painting’s overall harmonious and muted

colour scheme of light browns is interrupted

by highlights of primary colours in the fruit

and the inkpots, as well as splashes of paint

indicating a pattern on the tablecloth.

It has been suggested that this writing desk

is reminiscent of the one used by the artist’s

brother, Karl von Motesiczky. He had remained

in Austria when Marie-Louise and Henriette

von Motesiczky left the country in 1938. Karl

von Motesiczky, who was prone to suffer from

colds, would always keep apples on his desk.

Like After the Ball, 1949 (no. 87), Still-life with

Apples is a tribute to her absent sibling whose

life had not yet come to its abrupt end.

Fig. 64 Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

sketch, c. 1942, charcoal on paper,

215 × 345 mm (Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London)

sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Ursula Brentano to Marie-Louise von Motesiczky,

17 September 1969: ‘Do you remember the still life

of books and ink stands plus apples? I so love it, the

colours are just magnificent. At the moment it is

in the large room in the chalet’


Artist; Ilse Leembruggen (1948?); artist?; Sophie Brentano

(1960s?); Ursula Brentano (inherited).


London 1944b, no. 47, shown as Still Life with Apples and

Inkpot; Amsterdam 1952; The Hague 1952; Vienna 1966, no. 15;

Linz 1966, no. 15; Munich 1967, no. 15; Bremen 1968, no. 15;

London 1985, no. 26, illus. p. 34 (col.); Cambridge 1986, no. 26,

illus. p. 34 (col.).


H.v.C. 1952, n.p.; Black 1997, p. 992; Vinzent 2006, p. 159,

illus. p. 381.



Fire in July

Mädchen am Feuer


Oil on canvas, 560 × 726 mm

Signed (bottom right): M Motesiczky

Private collection, USA

With its apparently mysterious subject matter,

Fire in July, one of Motesiczky’s ‘strange paintings’,

1 has always puzzled critics. ‘What is the

“Girl by the Fire” up to … before the black hole

of the fireplace, is she being sucked in or out

with the slightly flowing blueish veil dress, or

does she invoke the red flickering embers?’ 2

A strangely ill-defined, long-legged creature

sits on the floor next to a fireplace in which a

fire burns vigorously. She is wearing a long,

flowing, white dress. A discarded beige coat

has fallen from her shoulders. Her bare arms,

ending in ill-defined fingers, are stretched out

towards the fire to catch some warmth. As the

English title implies, the scene takes place on

an unusually cold day in the middle of summer

when it became necessary to light a fire. The

shadowy profile does not closely define the girl’s

face. Its distinctive feature is one large, dark eye,

not quite correctly positioned in her face.

Although the girl seated by the fire ‘is not

entirely earthbound but might be a figment

born of firelight’, 3 the scene could be read

without any magical or sinister overtones. In

fact, the female figure probably depicts the

artist herself. It is helpful to compare Fire in

July with Parting, 1957 (no. 149), which shows

her wearing a similar dress and hairstyle, but

with more defined features. Motesiczky may

have been inspired by a series of photographs

taken in the early 1940s during a visit of Veza

and Elias Canetti to the Motesiczky family

home in Chestnut Lane in Amersham. One

photograph shows the artist sitting on the floor

of the living room, the largest of the rooms

downstairs, which doubled as her studio, legs

stretched out in front of her in a way that is very

similar to the pose of the girl in the painting

(fig. 65). Motesiczky is, in fact, sitting only

a few feet away from the distinctive large fireplace

of the room. Several other photographs

include this impressive construction with its

pronounced brick arch, which is unmistakably

re-created in the painting.

According to Peter Black, Oskar Kokoschka,

when shown this painting, expressed his

admiration for it and advised the artist not to do

any more work on it. The former owner of the

painting recalled that it was signed years after its

completion, on the insistence of her husband.

sources from the archive of

the marie-louise von motesiczky

charitable trust

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky to Elias Canetti, 14 August

1947 (postmark): ‘Am wenigsten gefielen ihm [Max

Beckmann] die Seidler und die Emmigrantenbarke.

Aber Morning in the Garden u. das Mädchen am

Feuer gefielen ihm sehr u. eigentlich auch fast alle

übrigen Sachen.’

Daniele Grassi, typescript, c. 1986, p. 4: ‘Daß Du kurz

vor einer fast visionären Betrachtung und Behandlung

des Gegenstandes stehst – wie im “Feuer im Juli” von

1942 – wird niemanden mehr wundern.’


1 ‘seltsamen Bilder’: Dr. S. 1968.

2 ‘Was treibt das “Mädchen am Feuer” … vor dem

schwarzen Kaminloch, wird es mit dem leicht wehenden

bläulichen Schleiergewand hinein- oder hinausgesogen,

oder beschwört es die rot züngelnde Glut?’: Reifenberg

1966a, n.p.

3 Anonymous 1985.


Artist; Georgette Lewinson (purchased at 1960 exhibition);

David Lewinson (inherited 2008).


London 1944b, no. 55, shown as Figure in Front of a Fire;

Munich 1954, no. 122; London 1960, no. 14, dated 1946;

Vienna 1966, no. 16, illus.; Linz 1966, no. 16, illus.; Munich

1967, no. 16, illus.; Bremen 1968, no. 16, illus.; London 1985,

no. 27, illus. p. 32 (col.); Cambridge 1986, no. 27, illus. p. 32 (col.).


Reifenberg 1966a, n.p.; Dr. S. 1968, n.p.; Anonymous 1985,

n.p.; Black 1997, p. 992; Lloyd 2007, p. 122.

Fig. 65 Marie-Louise von

Motesiczky posing between

her paintings in her studio

in Amersham – Veza Canetti is

in the background, photograph,

early 1940s (Motesiczky archive)




Old Woman, Amersham

Alte Frau, Amersham


Oil on canvas, 913 × 712 mm

Signed (bottom right): Motesiczky, underneath, partly visible: 1942

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London

The sitter for this portrait was a neighbour of

the Motesiczkys in Amersham who, according

to the artist, lived to be one hundred years old.

Her name is unknown. Although toothless and

staring sightlessly into the middle distance she

still has an impressive and strong presence.

She does, in fact, seem to have weathered all

the adversities of her long life and to have

conquered extreme old age. This idea would

have appealed to the artist, who was familiar

with Elias Canetti’s ardent wish to overcome

death and who believed in his ability to make

people immortal. In a reference to her

longevity, the old woman is holding a sheet

(not a baby, as a contemporary had suggested)

that might be a shroud, a common symbol in

Dutch paintings to suggest that the sitter will

outlive those around her. The portrait contains

one striking element: the shape behind the

sitter’s head. Presumably introduced as a

compositional element, it is, in fact, a hat.

The artist, aware of many unfavourable

comments about it, was never satisfied with

it. She intended to improve it, but never

managed to carry out the work.

Old Woman, Amersham was exhibited at the

Czechoslovak Institute, London, in autumn

1944. Oskar Kokoschka, a friend of the

Motesiczky family from the Vienna days,

approached the director of the Tate Gallery,

John Rothenstein, enquiring if a painting

from the exhibition might be accepted by

the museum. Unfortunately the offer was