Henry Pearlman

Henry Pearlman

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About This Work

Oskar Kokoschka (Austrian, 1886–1980)
Henry Pearlman, 1948
Oil on canvas
101.6 x 76.2 cm. (40 x 30 in.)
Signed lower right: O K


Commissioned from the artist by Henry Pearlman in Mar. 1948; Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation, by 1959.

Critical Perspective

Kokoschka painted Pearlman’s portrait in London. The artist’s wife, Olda, recorded in her journal the sittings that took place daily from March 15 through March 22, and from April 5 through April 7, 1948. Kokoschka conversed with his sitters, and Pearlman must have spoken about his house on the Hudson River as well as his daughters, for Marge and Dorothy Pearlman appear as young girls in the background, catching fish. The flash of Pearlman’s bright eyes and the nervous drawing that describes his body and hands bring the portrait to life. Kokoschka did not always get along with his sitters, but he became such a good friend of Pearlman that he stayed with the Pearlman family for a month on his first trip to the United States, in 1949.

Pearlman's personal correspondence with Oscar Kokoschka, 1948-1968: