Maria Slavona

Maria Slavona, Selbstportrait, 1910
1865 – 1931 / German impressionist painter

Maria Slavona was once known as one of Germany’s most important artists and was celebrated for her confident color choices.

From Lübeck to the world

Born in 1865 in Lübeck to a family of pharmacists, Slavona and her sisters were encouraged by their parents in their artistic development and her artistic education began at the age of seventeen.  At various stations – Berlin, Munich and Paris – the aspiring painter continued her education and made contacts with the likes of Käthe Kollwitz, Ludwig Herterich and the Danish painter – and father of her child – Vilhelm Petersen (also known as Willy Gretor).

“In 1890, I came to Paris. This is where a new world opened up to me. The first visits to the Louvre almost numbed and overwhelmed me. But I was disappointed by the schools I saw, I didn’t like them. I decided to work alone and seek advice and judgment only in the circle of a few young like-minded friends, almost all Danes and Norwegians.”
Maria Slavona
Unwaveringly French

Although Slavona initially experiences some rejection from the art world, she does not let herself be dissuaded.  She remained convinced of her French painting style. After some time,  from 1893 onwards, she was celebrated for it and even compared to the greats of Impressionism such as Berthe Morisot.  From then on, Slavona exhibits regularly and her Parisian apartment is a meeting point for the art scene.

Maria Slavona, Häuser am Montmatre, um 1900
Courtesy Galerie Bassenge
Artistic Creation Back at Home

Together with her family, Slavona moved back to her hometown Lübeck (Germany) and later to Berlin at the beginning of the 20th century.  She was artistically active in both places and from 1913 a member of the Berlin Secession, and after their split in the Free Secession led by Max Liebermann.

Still-life paintings and a quit life

The First World War left its mark on the artist’s health and finances. She retired to the countryside together with her family and from then on mainly creates flower still lifes.  Slavona dies in 1931.  A large part of her work was lost during the Second World War, but even her remaining works were not given much attention outside of her hometown Lübeck for a long time.