Muhsam, FritzEsther

Esther
Oil painting by Fritz Muhsam (ca.1882-1949)

GR.174 – Esther, Fritz Muhsam, (1934), Oil on canvas
Fritz Muhsam was a German artist, born in Berlin in 1882. He later became a close family friend of the Garman-Epstein family and lived near Kathleen Garman’s house in London. Kathleen Garman and Jacob Epstein’s youngest daughter Esther, is about five years old in this portrait. The picture is composed of thinly painted blocks of colour. The colours are carefully considered to incorporate warm and cool complementary tones which are characteristic of Muhsam’s style. If we look closely at the overlapping marks in the background, Muhsam seems to have painted directly onto the canvas which is a much more immediate approach than firstly drawing onto the canvas. This portrait and Muhsam’s portrait of Theo were hung in the double drawing room at Kathleen’s house. We do not know if the portraits were a commission or an informal gesture of friendship between Muhsam and the Epsteins. It is likely that they were conceived as a pair because they were painted in the same year and share many stylistic qualities.