Madame Lwoffa

The introspective nature of my last post seriously influenced the days that followed. My mind has been restlessly jumping from question to question and I seem to be philosophising about the silliest things from why I love coffee so much to why the train is always late on days when I am running late (very annoying but true).

Looking through one of my favourite art books last night, my mind was still restless. I came across a painting I had never noticed before. It was the sitter’s eyes that drew me in, she looked as restless as I did and as though her mind was racing through a thousand questions of her own.

EXT_madame lwoff 1_2013


I haven’t been able to find out a lot about her. I know she was the cousin of the artist, she was a married woman at the time the portrait was taken and her maiden name was Maria Iakovlena Simonovitch. The portrait is entitlted Madame Lwoffa so I guess she was married to a certain Mr. Lwoff (great detective skills, I know).

The artist who painted Madame Lwoffa is Valentin Aleksandrovich Serov (1865-1911), the son of composer parents Aleksander Serov and Valentina Bergman. Serov is best known for his portraits in which he strove to express the psychological complexity of his sitters (usually actors, artists and writers). His portait of Madame Lwoffa is certainly not his most famous but it is my favrouite.

I love this painting because you can almost hear the internal dialogue she is having with her self. This is not the usual portrait of a pretty yet two-dimentional woman. The artist has captured so much more, he’s captured her internal state.

I wish I could meet her – perhaps we could unburden our restless minds together.

5 thoughts on “Madame Lwoffa

      1. Yes I do actually! It’s not really the style of painting that appeals to me but it’s the woman and her pose and look that are interesting about this portrait!

      2. I completely agree.
        You should check out some of his other work – he was really a master at capturing the personalities and inner states of the people he portrayed. It’s really interesting.

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