One of them is Quappi, the second wife of artist Max Beckmann.
("Portrait of Quappi in Pink Sweater", Max Beckmann, 1935)
Chic and pretty, she poses confidently in front of her husband, biding her time until they leave to meet friends for dinner. Twenty years his junior, Quappi provided a welcome distraction to Beckmann's often-times tormented life. By all accounts she adored him. She loved to laugh and to have a good time. I love her turban and her elegant style, not to mention the gorgeous navy tufted chair and the wall treatment in the background. I only wish I could have seen the rest of the apartment.
Here's another lady I know I would have liked, journalist Sylvia von Harden.
("Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden", Otto Dix, 1926)
Can you believe this was painted in 1926? Except for the dangling cigarette, she could be sitting at Pastis, waiting to interview John Malkovich. Although not a typical beauty, it's obvious she was completely at ease with her looks. Unafraid, opinionated, she looks totally modern, the love child of Anna Wintour and Isabella Blow. It would have been daunting to meet her, probably, but I bet if you could make her laugh, she'd be a fierce and loyal friend. And you just know she was Grand Mistress of the clever retort. I'd definitely want to sit next to her at a dinner party.
Last but not least, I have a tender spot for this woman, whom I found on the internet without any credits (Aesthete, can you enlighten me?).
In my fabricated version of her life, she was married at 17 to a much older man, bore him six children in rapid succession and lost her identity in the process. It was not a happy marriage. Now widowed a year at the time of this sitting, she is starting to find her way back to the world of the living. Time has erased any link to the pre-Raphaelite sylph she once was. Intertwined in her arms is a shawl her youngest (and favorite) daughter just sent her from Jaipur. She always longed to travel abroad, but her husband abhorred foreigners, preferring to stay home and tend to his dahlias. A small smile plays across her lips. Her eyes flicker with the faintest gaze of hope. Act Two of her life is about to begin.
Or something like that.