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Lizzy Ansingh (1875-1959)

De bron: the source of life

Lizzy Ansingh (1875-1959)
De bron: the source of life
signed and dated 'L Ansingh/1916' (lower left)
oil on canvas
124.5 x 174 cm.
Mr. W. Juchter, Amsterdam.
Anonymous sale, Christie's, Amsterdam, 6 April 1982, lot 102, as: De levensbron.
Leiden, Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal, Eretentoonstelling Coba Ritsema, 22 December 1957-27 January 1958, as: De bron.
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Lot Essay

Since 1910 Lizzy Ansingh was in the possession of a dollhouse which was an important source of inspiration to her. Contrary to other artists, she chose these dolls not because of their form, colour or posture. Neither did she depict them as material objects. Lizzy Ansingh brought the dolls to life, gave them human qualities and let them perform as actors in her painted plays. Lizzy Ansingh was not only in the possession of dolls but also had wajang dolls and some 18th-century marquises in crinoline costumes. The latter are used as models for the women in The source of life.

In The source of life made in 1916, Ansingh has depicted the fear of the transitory nature of beauty and thereby the desire for eternal youth. Painted are the abundantly dressed women who stand underneath the blossomed branches of a tree and drink from the water of life. On the left, a man is supporting an older lady on the way to the source. Between them, it seems, a cupid is visible. Although Lizzy Ansingh wanted to depict the vanity of man in these kind of paintings, personal feelings played a role as well in the subject choice. She herself did not like getting older and showed her dissatisfaction and grief about this in lots of letters. She described the feeling as being passed the stations of old age and being abandoned and often thought back to her younger years: 'Sometimes I see my earlier life, floating somewhere in the distance, like a cloud in the sun.'

We would like to thank Drs Esther Dieltjes for her help in cataloguing the present lot.

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