Karl Gussow

Portrait of Ossip Schubin,


oil on panel


 Karl Gussow (German, 1843-1907), sometimes Carl Gussow

"Portrait of the Novelist Ossip Schubin at Age 33," pseudonym for Aloisia (Lola) Kirschner

oil on panel
69 x 53,5 cm
upper right signed, dated and inscribed "C. Gussow Brln. 1887"


Elisabeth (Lili) Kolisko, Wien (Jacquingasse 31, Wien III).  Lili Kolisko (1889-1976), a student of Rudolf Steiner, was an important figure in anthroposophy.

Viennese private collection


Berliner Akademische Kunstausstellung 1887.
Wiener Jubiläumsausstellung 1888.
Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung 1904 (Ausstellungsetikett verso).


Friedrich von Boetticher: Malerwerke des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts. 1891-1901. Bd. 1. S. 459, Nr. 31.

Galerie Bassenge, Berlin (Auction 106K, Gemaelde Alter und Neuerer Meister, November 27, 2015, Lot 6214), catalogue cover photo


An emancipated and accomplished woman of the late 19th century, the German novelist Ossip Schubin (born Aloisia Kirschner, known as Lola) was, in her day, one of the most successful authors of popular literature in Europe. 

Born in Prague in 1854 to a wealthy Jewish family, she was well educated. After her father’s premature death, Ossip Schubin traveled, at an early age, through the European cultural capitals (including Berlin, Paris, Rome, Geneva, Brussels, and St. Petersburg) with her mother and her sister, Marie Kirschner (an artist who became known for her Jugendstil glasswork, of which The Daulton Collection owns a number of fine examples). And in her travels through the intellectual circles of the European salons, Ossip Schubin discovered and developed a personal literary talent, resulting in the prodigious output of more than 40 novels and other books over the course of her life, beginning in 1882 at age 28 with her first novel Ehre [Honor]. She took her nom de plume, Ossip Schubin, from a character in a novel by the Russian author Ivan Turgenev, who she had met in Paris. A keen observer with a gift for striking characterization and sarcastic wit, Schubin was known for her clever description of international fashionable aristocratic society in Europe as well as of artistic bohemianism. Although she was a celebrated author during her lifetime, Ossip Schubin’s popularity declined after the First World War, and her work was quickly forgotten after her death in 1934 at age 79 at Kosatky Castle (Schloss Kosatky) near Prague.


Karl Gussow (1843-1907) was a German painter, who was particularly important for his role as a teacher in a series of academic posts in Weimar, Karlsruhe, Berlin (where he painted this portrait), and, finally, from 1883, Munich; his most famous student was the symbolist artist Max Klinger (who dedicated his print portfolio Dramen to Gussow). In style, Gussow was an exacting realist, known especially for his portraiture, but he transcended the genre and verisimilitude in this penetrating portrait of Ossip Schubin.


Ossip Schubin sat for her portrait at age 33, when her novels, set in the milieu of European high society, were already achieving great success. In Gussow’s portrait, Schubin has an aura about her, a quiet energy. And with her clear, spell-binding gaze, she appears mystical and enigmatic – like an apparition. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that the painting was acquired by Elisabeth (Lili) Kolisko (1889-1976) of Vienna, a student and colleague of the esotericist Rudolf Steiner, who was herself an important figure in anthroposophy, the scientific exploration of the spiritual world, and who believed in the transformative power of starlight.

-- Jack Daulton

From 1888 to 1914, Marie Kirschner and her sister Ossip Schubin were noted salonnières in Berlin:

"Die Schwestern Kirschner ließen sich im Jahre 1887 in Berlin nieder.  Sie fanden schnell Anschluß an die Künstler- und Literatengesellschaft Berlins und wurden von der Gräfin Maximiliane von Oriola protegiert.  Marie Kirschner schloß enge Freundschaft mit der Malerin, Schriftstellerin und Salonnière Marie von Olfers.  Die "Donnerstags-Tees" der Schwestern Kirschner wurden beliebte Treffpunkte der Berliner Salongesellschaft; häufig fanden in Atelier Marie Kirschners in der Steglitzer Strasse an diesen Donnerstagen kleine Konzerte statt. Bis zum Vorabend  des Ersten Weltkriegs bestand diese künstlerische Geselligkeit. Den Sommer verbrachten die Schwestern meist in Böhmen; während Marie Kirschner bis 1914 die übrige Zeit in Berlin wohnte, scheint Ossip Schubin sich, zumindest in den letzten Jahren, seltener in Berlin aufgehalten zu haben."  Petra Wilhelmy, Der Berliner Salon im 19. Jahrhundert (1780-1914) (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1989), pg. 702

["The Kirschner sisters settled in Berlin in 1887. They quickly made contact with Berlin's artists' and writers' society and were protected by Countess Maximiliane von Oriola. Marie Kirschner became close friends with the painter, writer and salonnière Marie von Olfers. The Kirschner sisters' "Thursday teas" became a popular meeting place for Berlin salon society; small concerts often took place in Marie Kirschner's studio on Steglitzer Strasse on Thursdays. This artistic conviviality lasted until the eve of the First World War. The sisters spent most of the summer in Bohemia; while Marie Kirschner lived in Berlin the rest of the time until 1914, Ossip Schubin seems to have spent less time in Berlin, at least in recent years."]

Loescher & Petsch, Berlin
Portrait of Ossip Schubin
vintage albumen photograph mounted on card (cabinet card)
1894 or earlier
The Daulton Collection

Ossip Schubin, born Aloisia Kirschner (1854-1934), was an Austrian novelist.  She was the younger sister of the glass artist and painter Marie Kirschner, whose glass works are found in The Daulton Collection, below.  

At age 33 (her age in Gussow's portrait of 1887), Schubin was already a celebrity, as evidenced by an autograph letter in The Daulton Collection dated 1886 in reply to a fan seeking an autograph:
Ossip Schubin (1854-1934)
autograph letter 
8 vo., 3pp. on a double leaf (only pages 2 and 3 shown above)
signed "Ossip Schubin"
dated 2 Oct. 1886, Prague
The Daulton Collection

A young celebrity hesitantly giving an autograph to a fan

In reply to a woman, Ossip Scubin hesitantly provides a requested autograph: "Anbei das von Ihnen gewünschte Autograph. Wenn ich so lange gezögert es Ihnen zu senden so war's weil ich nicht recht einig mit mir werden konnte darüber ob ich Ihnen eine große Enttäuschung ersparen dürfe oder nicht". 

English translation (Jack Daulton): 

"Enclosed is the autograph you want.  If I hesitated for so long to send it to you, it was because I could not agree with myself about whether I could spare you a big disappointment or not". 

Marta Wolff,
Portrait of Ossip Schubin
dated unknown (but much later than Gussow's portrait)
vintage photograph postcard
The Daulton Collection
Adolf Neumann (German, 1825-1884)
Portrait of Karl Gussow
wood engraving after a photograph
a periodical leaf
The Daulton Collection

Jack Daulton
The Daulton Collection
Los Altos Hills, California