Gabriele Münter (1877-1962)

International Women's Day

Gabriele Münter
Girl with a Red Ribbon, 1908

Oil on board, 40.7 x 32.8 cm
Purchased, 2006
NGI.2006.12

Münter painted 'Girl with a Red Ribbon' during a visit to the Bavarian village of Murnau. The portrait is one of a series of small studies of women and children that Münter painted between 1908 and 1911.

The furrowed brow and sideways gaze of the unnamed girl convey an intense and thoughtful expression. Planes of non-naturalistic, complementary colours differentiate the angles of her face giving it a mask-like quality. Münter's use of bold colour was influenced by the paintings of Henri Matisse and Paul Gauguin, which she had seen in Paris, and also by the work of Vincent van Gogh.

In 1909 Münter bought a house in Murnau and settled there with her partner Wassily Kandinsky. In Murnau, she began to collect traditional religious icons and glass-paintings (Hinterglasmalerei). She not only experimented in the Bavarian glass-painting technique but incorporated its stylistic dark outlines and jewel-like colouring into her oil paintings.

With its youthful subject, simplified forms and glowing colour, 'Girl with a Red Ribbon' can be viewed both as Expressionist reinterpretation of local votive images and a sophisticated response to contemporary art of the Parisian avant-garde.