About this artwork

The violent colours and broad brushstrokes seen in 'Head of a Woman' can be compared with paintings by Derain. Jawlensky's painting achieved maturity in 1911. He felt that his most powerful works were produced in the period up to 1914, when he was painting in strong colours with a 'tremendous inner ecstasy'. The majority of Jawlensky's works are portraits and heads of women, and, in a sense, he was continuing the great tradition of Russian icon painting. His later work became increasingly stylized, with the female head being reduced to a few schematic forms and lines.

Alexej von Jawlensky

Alexej von Jawlensky

Jawlensky was born in Russia, and started out with a military career. He began his art studies comparatively late, in his mid-twenties, and in 1896 left the army and went to Munich where he enrolled at art school. Another Russian artist, Wassily Kandinsky, was a fellow student, and the two became great friends. In 1905 Jawlensky spent some time in France, where he was influenced by the work of Gauguin, Van Gogh and the Fauves. He showed several paintings at the famous Salon d'Automne exhibition of 1905, in which the Fauves were given their name.