Oskar Kokoschka

Posy Croft

About this artwork

Following the Nazis’ rise to power and his denunciation by them as a "degenerate artist", Oskar Kokoschka fled to London in September 1938. Although already a famous artist, he was virtually penniless. Late in 1938, Kokoschka met Michael Croft, the son of a Conservative MP. He commissioned portraits of himself and his sister, Posy (1918-2015), who was then just twenty. She sat for Kokoschka at least six times for the portrait. She recalled: ‘The experience of meeting and being painted by Kokoschka was unforgettable. It was important for him to get to know the beliefs and feelings, likes and dislikes of the person he was painting.’ The flowers pinned to her breast were Kokoschka’s invention, as was the décolleté blue dress. Her parents were deeply conservative, and she knew that they would not approve of the painting, so she kept it hidden from them.

see media
  • title:
    Posy Croft
  • accession number:
    GMA 5601
  • artist:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • subject:
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • date created:
    1939
  • measurements:
    76.20 x 63.50 cm (framed: 100.80 x 88.10 cm)
  • credit line:
    Accepted by HM Government in Lieu of Inheritance Tax from the estate of the sitter and allocated to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 2018
  • copyright:
    © Fondation Oskar Kokoschka/ DACS 2018.

Oskar Kokoschka

Oskar Kokoschka

Kokoschka studied at the School of Arts and Crafts in Vienna from 1905 to 1909, where he also worked for the Wiener Werkstätte (Viennese Workshops). Although his early work was part of the 'art nouveau' movement in Vienna, he soon developed into Austria's leading expressionist painter, specialising in disturbing psychological portraits. After being invalided out of the army during the First World War, Kokoschka was based mainly in Dresden until 1923. He travelled until 1930, and from 1931 to 1934 returned to live in his native Vienna. In 1934 he moved to Prague, where he took out Czech citizenship. After the Munich Agreement of September 1938, he was forced to flee to London with his future wife, Olda Palkovska. He became a British citizen in 1947, and lived mainly in Switzerland after 1953.