September 15, 2018 09:00 AM EDT Asheville, North Carolina


Karl Hofer

(or Carl, German, 1878-1955)

Woman in Green, signed lower left with monogram "CH 43", oil on canvas, 30-3/8 x 24 in.; original 1940s era reverse profile step frame, 35-1/2 x 29-1/4 in.

Note: "My mother, Virginia Armistead MacLaren (1909-1985), studied medicine at William and Mary in 1927, but left college due to her father’s reservations about a woman’s place in that field.  Undaunted, she left for Europe.  In the early 1930s, Virginia lived in Paris and studied painting with Madame Mela Muter, also immersing herself in French culture and cuisine.  She returned to New York City, where she met and married Donald MacLaren, who would soon be working for the British Government as a spy. Virginia began working for the U.S. Government in the Secret Service, the precursor to the C.I.A.  While there she investigated American oil companies that were trading armaments to Hitler’s army through third world countries, as well as helping people escape the clutches of the German army, smuggling them out to freedom. 

A friend told Virginia about Karl Hofer and his struggles as an artist trying to survive the war in Germany.  She gathered paints, brushes, and any other art supplies she could, and went to Hofer’s studio.  It was there that she photographed him.  In return for the gift of the art supplies, the artist gave her this painting.  He also told her about his studio getting bombed, and loosing everything in it, including all his precious paintings.  Karl Hofer in his indomitable way, was in the process of repainting all his lost works from memory.  My childhood memory was of my mother crying, saying to me “can you imagine painting all your lost works from memory?”  This painting by Hofer is a testament to his endurance—the endurance of a people who survived Hitler—and to the dreams of a woman (dressed in green) whose eyes reveal her soul and the dreams of a people for a future yet to be lived."  -Madison MacLaren

Hofer was in important figure in the German Expressionist movement.  Early on, he painted in Paris, and was largely influenced by the works of Henri Rousseau and Cezanne.  He was the first German to win first prize at the Carnegie International Exhibition, but was forbidden to exhibit in Germany as a “degenerate” artist during the Nazi regime.

Provenance:Gift from Artist to Virginia Madison Armstead MacLaren, New York City, New York


original stretcher and tacking edge, canvas with slackness, crease upper right corner, canvas brittle with some deterioration with associated paint voids lower right in dress and background and upper left in dark brown pigment near back of subject's head, uneven varnish, grime; frame with some flaking and abrasions, dry popped corners

Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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