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plate: 14.3 x 11.2 cm (5 5/8 x 4 7/16 in.)  sheet: 35 x 26.2 cm (13 3/4 x 10 5/16 in.)
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Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

A pioneer of modern art in Europe and the first woman to paint a full-length nude self-portrait, Paula Modersohn-Becker favored simple forms and complex textures created by scratching into sculpted paint on canvas. Modersohn-Becker trained under Fritz Mackensen in the Worpswede artists’ colony, alongside artists such as Heinrich Vogeler and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke. Her unique visual language—a synthesis of post-impressionist styles balancing French formalism with a German aesthetic—is marked by humanistic representations of local villagers. Drawn to the vibrant Parisian art culture, Modersohn-Becker was influenced by artists like Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin, as well as by classical painting. Modersohn-Becker’s nude self-portrait, painted just prior to her death, had no precedent—male or female—and celebrated the female body in a straightforward, unembellished manner.

Collected by major museums
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Selected exhibitions
2019
Masterpieces of the Kunsthalle Bremen: From Delacroix to BeckmannGuggenheim Museum Bilbao
2016
Paula Modersohn-Becker: An Intensely Artistic EyeMusée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
2014
Paula Modersohn-BeckerLouisiana Museum of Modern Art
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Chalet, 1899

Etching and aquatint in green-black on wove paper
13 3/4 × 10 5/16 in
34.9 × 26.2 cm
Permanent collection
Location
Washington
plate: 14.3 x 11.2 cm (5 5/8 x 4 7/16 in.)  sheet: 35 x 26.2 cm (13 3/4 x 10 5/16 in.)
Medium
Image rights
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

A pioneer of modern art in Europe and the first woman to paint a full-length nude self-portrait, Paula Modersohn-Becker favored simple forms and complex textures created by scratching into sculpted paint on canvas. Modersohn-Becker trained under Fritz Mackensen in the Worpswede artists’ colony, alongside artists such as Heinrich Vogeler and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke. Her unique visual language—a synthesis of post-impressionist styles balancing French formalism with a German aesthetic—is marked by humanistic representations of local villagers. Drawn to the vibrant Parisian art culture, Modersohn-Becker was influenced by artists like Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin, as well as by classical painting. Modersohn-Becker’s nude self-portrait, painted just prior to her death, had no precedent—male or female—and celebrated the female body in a straightforward, unembellished manner.

Collected by major museums
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Selected exhibitions (3)

Series by this artist

Other works by Paula Modersohn-Becker
Related works