That year she had two paintings exhibited in the Salon in Paris, another in the Galerie Moderne in Stockholm. But although in Germany her works were gathering acclaim, she was rapidly falling out of favour with the state.
The Nazis declared Laserstein a ‘three-quarter Jew’ and she was forced to abandon her studio. She emigrated to Sweden as her works in public institutions fell prey to Nazi iconoclasm. Following the Second World War, much attention was given to abstract art and her realist paintings fell into obscurity.
However, in 1987, Agnews, along with Belgrave Gallery, staged an exhibition of the pieces she had retained in her personal collection. Credit is widely given to this show for reviving interest in her career.
Now, 30 years since that first show, Agnews is set to hold another display of Laserstein’s works. Comprised of works both for sale and on loan, Lotte Laserstein’s Women runs in the St James’s gallery from November 9-December 15.
Her most celebrated works are from the inter-war period when she concentrated on the female form, her primary interest. She depicted the ‘Neue Frau’ or ‘new woman’ of the 1920s and ‘30s including a series of paintings of herself and friend Traute Rose, whom she dubbed her “favourite model”.
One example is In My Studio (1928), one of the loaned works at the exhibition. It shows Rose, her nude body athletic and androgynous, in the pose of a sleeping Venus in Laserstein’s Berlin studio as the artist works at her easel.
It was exhibited at that first Agnews exhibition in 1987 where it was purchased by a private US collection, from which it now comes on loan.
Other works have been lent from Belgium, Germany, the US and beyond. Among the loan and available works are those which have never been seen before.
The show incorporates images of Rose and Laserstein’s second long-time model, Margarete Jaraczewsky, who was also depicted in intimate (and possibly erotic) double portraits.
Since the first exhibition that Agnews held, and a follow-up show staged there in 1990, the artist has commanded good results at auction.
Abend Über Potsdam, arguably the artist’s masterpiece, was purchased at Sotheby’s in 2010 by the Neue National Galerie in Berlin for a premium-inclusive £421,250. A nude portrait of Rose seen from behind set another high price for Laserstein: €341,600 at Grisebach Berlin.
Prices at Agnews will range from just over £10,000 to £125,000.
“Despite the fact that they greatly enriched our cultural history, the roles of these women artists in the commercial and academic worlds has never been fully recognised,” says gallery director Anthony Crichton- Stuart. He adds that her work, like that of many other women artists of the period “is only now getting the attention it so justly deserves”.