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Lotte Laserstein

Grainy black-and-white photograph of a light-skinned adult woman with short dark hair. She stands in profile in front of a large painting of three figures around a table before a cityscape. She wears a white collared blouse and holds a brush in her right hand up to the painting

Photo by Wanda von Debschitz-Kunowski

1898–1993

After her initial art training in a school run by one of her aunts in Berlin, Laserstein became one of the few female students at the prestigious Berlin Academy of Fine Arts. She studied there from 1919 through 1925.

Laserstein became an accomplished realist painter, winning the Academy’s gold medal for her work. She soon had her own pupils, and her first solo exhibition at a Berlin gallery in 1930 garnered critical praise. To supplement her income, Laserstein took various jobs making decorative art and, most significantly, illustrating an anatomy text.

Despite her increasing success, the rise of Nazism in Germany began to affect Laserstein’s life. Because her paternal grandfather had been Jewish, Laserstein’s mother’s apartment and many of her valuables were confiscated by the state. It became difficult for Laserstein to find artists’ materials, and in 1935 she was forced to close her studio.

In 1937, Laserstein moved to Stockholm, where she remained for the rest of her life. She became a member of the Swedish Academy of Arts and developed a reputation as a popular and respected portraitist.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Lotte Laserstein
  • Birth

    Preussich Holland, East Prussia (now Pasłęk, Poland), 1898
  • Death

    Kalmar, Sweden, 1993
  • Phonetic Spelling

    LOH-tuh lah-ow-zerr-SH-(T-EYE-N)

Works by Lotte Laserstein

Morning Toilette

Lotte Laserstein met Traute Rose during the 1920s. A gifted athlete, Rose became the artist’s tennis coach and, later, her favorite model, capable of holding difficult poses for an extended period of time.

In its straightforward, sober, and unflattering style, this work typifies German realism. Although it features the life-size nude figure of a woman at her toilette—a venerable theme...

A light-skinned adult woman crouches near a small washtub and sponges her torso. One small bench holds a washcloth and water glass while garments rest on another. Posed within a cramped attic room and viewed from above, her body dominates the canvas and appears too large for the space.