Collection Online
Portrait of my parents

Portrait of my parents
(Porträt meiner Eltern)

oil on canvas
78.2 × 88.0 cm
inscribed in black paint u.r.: W. Rothenstein fecit / 1900.
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Ofer Elboher through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program, 2018
Gallery location
19th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

Collection of the artist, London, 1900; Berlin Secession exhibition 1901, no. 207 (repr.); given to his sister Blanche Schwabe (née Rothenstein) 1867–1969 (died in Melbourne); bequeathed to her daughter Mrs Ernest Marcuse, Melbourne; bequeathed to her son Mr Peter Marcuse, Melbourne; given to his son-in-law Mr Ofer Elboher, Melbourne.

This is a very fine example of William Rothenstein's painting practice at a time when his art was achieving wide recognition in the English art world. In 1900, the year this work was painted, Rothenstein's painting The doll's house 1889–1900 (Tate, London) won a silver medal at the Paris Exposition. Rothenstein's work at this period was highly influenced by that of Edgar Degas, who had become very much a mentor to the English artist during his time in Paris in the preceding decade. The artist's parents, Moritz and Bertha Rothenstein, are shown here dressed formally and seated in an interior. The composition at first seems somewhat stern, reflecting perhaps their conservative Germanic background. The seeming formality of the couple's pose is softened however by the father's right hand, which reaches protectively around the shoulders of his beloved wife.