Untitled by Charlotte Salomon

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This work is a gouache by Charlotte Salomon, part of her principal work Life? or Theatre?. It is placed by editors towards the end of Act 2 of the Prelude. It depicts the fictional Charlotte Kann at work after taking drawing lessons following a discouraging start that had seen her fail her first test for admission to the Academy of Arts. She subsequently gains admission (Felstiner pp. 36-9). Salomon herself attended the Vereinigte Staatsschulen für freie und angewandte Kunst (United State Schools for Pure and Applied Arts) in Berlin from 1936 to 1938 on the strength of the Gesetz gegen die Überfüllung deutscher Schulen und Hochschulen (Law Against Overfilling the German Schools and Colleges), which provided that up to 1.5% of the student body might be of Jewish origin if their fathers had served at the front in the First World War (Salomon's father had been a military doctor). But by Summer 1938 it became too dangerous for Charlotte to attend in case her Jewish backgound was discovered and she did not return, despite winning a prize (Fischer-Defoy and Belinfante, pp. 17-21).


Mary Felstiner, Salomon's principal biographer, notes that the chair, shoes, fruits, and sunflowers make the picture a homage to Vincent van Gogh, who himself had faced a discouraging start to his career. (p. 37).

Judith Belinfante notes that Salomon scribbled a comment in pencil (at JHM 4918?): "That which van Gogh attained later in life, ... a brushstroke of unprecedented lightness, which unfortunately seems to have a distinctly pathological side, I have attained already" (Herzberg, viii). Felstiner remarks that van Gogh is the only artist Salomon mentions in her notes (p. 66).
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