Luxury Design, Past & Present
Pair of watercolour pictures by Gerda Wegener (15 March 1886 – 28 July 1940). Both signed, one dated 1918. (c. 1918 Danish)
Born Gerda Gottlieb she studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. While there she met fellow artist Einar Wegener (later Lili Elbe) (1882–1931). They married in 1904. They travelled through Italy and France, eventually settling in Paris in 1912. Gerda found much success both as a painter and as illustrator for Vogue, La Vie Parisienne, Fantasio, and many other magazines. As she found fame in Paris, Gerda also developed a following in her home country. She held exhibitions at Ole Haslunds gallery in Copenhagen. More than her talent, her success came largely from her diligence and the advantages that her unusual marriage brought her.
At the time, many considered Elbe to be the more talented artist, but she toned down her own work and profile to help her wife in her artistic endeavours. Elbe posed for Gerda in women's clothes one day, filling in for Gottlieb's absentee model. Asked to wear stockings and heels so her legs could substitute for those of the model, she adopted the persona of "Lili Elbe", and felt surprisingly comfortable in the clothing. "Lili" became Gerda's favorite model, and over time, Gottlieb became famous for her paintings of beautiful women with haunting almond-shaped eyes dressed in chic fashions. In 1913, the unsuspecting public was shocked to discover that the model who had inspired Gottlieb's depictions of petite femmes fatales was in fact Gottlieb's spouse. Elbe eventually identified as a male-to-female transgender woman. She had the first publicly known sex reassignment surgery in history in 1930. Gottlieb supported Elbe throughout her transition. The Wegeners' marriage was declared null and void in October 1930 by Christian X, the King of Denmark at that time.
See also "The Danish Girl" film released 2015 starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander
Signed: GERDA WEGENER. 1918.
London SW15 9BD