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Woman with a Parrot

Theresa F. Bernstein

Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art

On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, The City and the Rise of the Modern Woman, 1900–1945
Theresa Bernstein painted several striking portraits of the Dada artist, poet, model, and muse Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, whom she befriended in New York’s Greenwich Village. Here, the baroness is gracefully poised against a plain background; her back is partially exposed, and she holds a red parrot.

Bernstein’s portraits of the baroness capture the changing gender roles embodied by the “New Woman” of the 1910s and 1920s. Along with other artists in her circle, Freytag-Loringhoven pioneered the use of the “readymade,” incorporating found objects into eccentric costumes that she paraded about the city streets (see image below). Yet she departed from her male colleagues by staging her own body in a proto-feminist performance. Equally radical in her own time, Bernstein forged her own path as a Jewish immigrant and a female artist in the male-dominated art market.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES ca. 1917
DIMENSIONS 40 × 25 in. (101.6 × 63.5 cm) frame: 46 1/2 × 31 1/2 × 2 1/4 in. (118.1 × 80 × 5.7 cm)
CREDIT LINE Gift of Edith and Martin Stein
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