A common space for harmonic peacemakers
Martha Hirsch, the woman depicted, had married the industrialist Wilhelm Hirsch in September of 1908 and their son Richard was born the following summer. This picture was painted soon after his birth. Although Martha was only 22 years old at the time, her faraway expression and contorted hands suggest weariness. Perhaps she found the portrait sittings disconcerting. Likewise, the artist may have sensed her struggle to cope with the stresses of marriage and motherhood. When the canvas was first publicly unveiled in 1910, it was dubbed “Die verträumte Frau,” or “the Dreaming Woman.” One critic at the time described the sitter as “an unhappy woman—pale, nervous, careworn—with demonic, bovine eyes squinting from depression."
NOW ON VIEW | "Austrian Masterworks from the Neue Galerie”
Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980), “Martha Hirsch (Dreaming Woman),” 1909, oil on canvas. Neue Galerie New York. Gift of the Serge and Vally Sabarsky Foundation, Inc. Photo: Hulya Kolabas for Neue Galerie New York. © 2022 Fondation Oskar Kokoschka / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ProLitteris, Zürich