An early 20th-century oil on canvas depicting a woman washing laundry within a brick outbuilding. The artist, Robert Gustav Otto Panitzsch (1879-1949), has used a lively array of skilful marks to capture the scene.
We particularly love how he’s created a rough, stony effect by letting the ground show through in varying degrees. The light is also cleverly observed.
Panitzsch was born in Germany but later immigrated to Denmark and became a national. He’s particularly well known for his interior scenes and tended to paint sunlit rooms with female occupants.
His father, Carl, worked as a stationmaster and sometimes Robert would accompany him and draw while sitting in the waiting room. You can imagine how exciting it would’ve been for him to quickly sketch various travellers before they scuttled off on their journeys. On one occasion, his skilful drawings caught the eye of a distinguished gentleman from Emperor Wilhelm's court. It’s said that he was so impressed with Robert’s potential that he guaranteed his acceptance into the Imperial Academy of Arts in Berlin.
Following his time at the Academy, he worked as a church painter and met his future wife, Fanny Christensen, who was working for the Red Cross. This marriage ultimately led to him becoming a Danish citizen later in life.
It’s interesting that he became a Danish citizen as his painting style suits the often introspective nature of Danish genre scenes. The Danes have a strong heritage of capturing an evocative atmosphere and Panitzsch would’ve enjoyed the inspiration. Perhaps he was a quiet, reclusive character that revelled in the subtleties of everyday life over the beauty of the great outdoors.
The painting is signed/dated in the lower right and housed within a gilded frame that could be its original.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 18½” x 23” / 47cm x 58cm
Year of creation: c. 1930
Condition: Very presentable overall. Canvas relined. Frame with some scuffs and light wear.
Artist’s auction highlight: £10,000 achieved for ‘In The Rose Garden’ at Christie’s in 1990.