Portrait of a Woman (Self-Portrait)

Margit Selska

  • Portrait of a Woman (Self-Portrait) 2
Basic information
Margit Selska
Portrait of a Woman (Self-Portrait)
Date of creation
Eastern Europe
oil painting
canvas oil
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
63.7 x 52
Information about author
Margit Selska
Artist's lifetime
Margit Selska (Reich) (1900, Kolomyia – 1980, Lviv). In 1918, the artist entered the private Free Academy of Art in Lviv, where she studied under the guidance of Feliks Wygrzywalski. In 1921, Margit Reich graduated from the State Industrial School in Lviv, and between 1921 and 1922 she studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow with Wojciech Weiss and Wladyslaw Jarocki. From 1922 till 1923 she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien). In 1924, the artist moved to Paris, where she frequented exhibitions of modernists and became interested in cinema and photography. In Paris she attended the Académie Moderne, the art school founded by Fernand Léger and Amédée Ozenfant. In 1926, the artist took part in the exhibition of the Salon des Indépendants (Society of Independent Artists) in Paris, and the following year her first personal exhibition took place in Lviv. She was a member of the art association "Artes" (1929–1935), the Association of Independent Ukrainian Artists (1931–1939), the New Generation (1932–1935) and the Lviv Trade Union of Plastic Artists (1932–1939). During the Holocaust, Margit Selska was in the Yaniv concentration camp, from which she managed to escape to Krakow with the help of her friends. In 1943, the Selski couple returned to Lviv. In 1978, for the first time after the war, the artist presented her works at an exhibition in the Lviv Art Gallery. Margit Selska is the author of numerous portraits, still lifes and landscapes. The artist's work was greatly influenced by Post-Impressionism, Cubism and Constructivism. Her works have a special coloristic and compositional solution, in particular, her early work Hel (1932), Woman with a Cat (1960s), Crimea. Uiutne Village (1962), Carpathian Landscape (1965), Near the Sea (1964), Grape Harvest (1968), Old Ash Tree (1976) and others.
Object description
A group of female portraits from the late 1930s occupies a special place in Margit Selska's oeuvre. They are chamber-like, intimate and lyrical. They contain expressive attention to tonal and light aspects of painting, the texture variation of the colour layer is an exponent of subtle nuances of colouristic polyphony. Another aspect is sentimental melancholy, which is combined with attention to the youthfulness and attractiveness of the models. Perhaps the latter was a sign of the artist's own attitude towards the time, and the people in it, at a time of world cataclysms. But it is the atmosphere of the time that is reflected in Margit Selska's work of this period, in particular in the Portrait of a Woman, which is probably a self-portrait of the artist. Almost the full height of the vertical composition, on a yellowish-red background with splashes of blue, is a half-length image of a woman sitting in a soft armchair. The subject's head is slightly turned to the left. The woman's yellowish-brown wavy hair is slicked back to the right side, somewhat coming to the forehead. Thin eyebrows arch and the gaze of wide-open brown eyes is directed down to the left, outlined red lips and a straight nose. The woman is dressed in a light blue dress with a white collar.
In the bottom right there is author's signature: "reihowа"