“Carmencita”, Portrait of Charlotte Berend-Corinth in Spanish Dress
Oil on canvas
Inv. No. 2064 (Property of the Städelscher Museums-Verein e. V.)
130 × 90 cm
“The painting was done after a jolly evening. The party at the Secession was called ‘A Southern Night’. I had gone as a Spanish woman”, writes Charlotte Berend-Corinth shortly after her husband’s death. Painted in 1924, shortly before he died, the almost life-size Carmencita concludes the long series of some eighty portraits that Corinth made of his wife, who was twenty-three years his junior. More important to him than the figure is the quick and vigorous application of the paint, pushed almost to the point of making the subject unrecognizable. Here, painting becomes its own subject. The viewer must see “into” the painting before gradually recognizing details like the headdress, the fan and the chandelier in the background. In his textbook on painting of 1907, Corinth points to the importance of “squinting”, which he compares to an out-of-focus camera and which permits one to perceive the figure as the main event and its surroundings as soft masses of colour. Together with Max Liebermann und Max Slevogt, Corinth is one of the most influential exponents of German Impressionism, whose idiosyncratic practise of modelling in shades of black and grey characterizes the Carmencita.