Marie-Louise von Motesiczky

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky was born in Vienna and went to Paris at 18 to study at the Montparnasse Painting Academy. It was in 1926 that Max Beckmann suggested that she should study with him in Frankfurt. His influence is clearly visible in her more hard-edged works completed in the 1920s, but she started to develop a more personal, painterly style over the next ten years.

In 1939 she settled in Britain along with her mother and her former nanny. During the war, she got to know Oskar Kokoschka. The two artists had a lot in common, both being keen portrait painters, although Motesiczky retained her own rather more traditional style.

She was fascinated by other people and the human character, and her portraits frequently tell stories; she once said: ‘For me, anything with a figure, is a story.’ After the war, Motesiczky produced a series of three paintings about her brother Karl, who died at Aushwitz after helping Jews to escape Austria. During the time she spent living with, and later caring for, her frail elderly mother in London, she made a series of touching portraits of her mother, which are considered by many to be her greatest works.

Her varied oeuvre, which extended over a period of more than sixty years, never made any concessions to passing movements. Her moving paintings of her mother, like all her portraits, embody a sensitive empathy.