Oskar Zwintscher

The Woman in Hamster


oil on canvas


Oskar Zwintscher (Leipzig 1870-1916 Dresden)

The Woman in Hamster

(Portrait of the Artist's Wife, Adele Zwintscher, in a Hamster Jacket)

(Bildnis der Adele Zwintscher im Hamsterpelz)

(Bildnis der Frau des Künstlers im Hamsterpelz)

(Bildnis der Gattin des Künstlers in Hamsterjacke)

oil on canvas


89 x 63 cm (frame 114,3 x 88,5 cm)

monogrammed upper right: OZ 1914

For a thorough technical analysis of this painting, see Dehmer and Dalbajewa 2021, below, at pgs 102-103.


Hugo Toelle (1852-1921, Barmen, today a district of Wuppertal), industrialist, who purchased the painting at the Zwintscher Memorial Exhibition in 1916.  See Dehmer and Dalbajewa 2021, below, at pg. 101.

Exhibition History:

Dresden, Sächsischer Kunstverein: Oskar Zwintscher Gedächtnis-Ausstellung. April/Mai 1916.   [Dresden, Saxon Art Association: Oskar Zwintscher Memorial Exhibition. April / May 1916]

Leipziger Kunstverein, no. 3507, date unknown (label on verso)

"Oskar Zwintscher (1870–1916). Das unbekannte Meisterwerk" ["Oskar  Zwintscher (1870-1916): The Unknown Masterpiece"], Albertinum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, December 1, 2019 - January 15, 2023, a research and exhibition project coinciding with and commemorating the 150th anniversary of Zwintscher's birth

"Weltflucht und Moderne: Oskar Zwintscher in der Kunst um 1900" ["Escapism and Modernity: Oskar Zwintscher, Art in 1900"], Albertinum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, May 14, 2022 - January 15, 2023, the first retrospective exhibition of Zwintscher's work in more than 100 years

"Weltflucht und Moderne: Oskar Zwintscher in der Kunst um 1900" ["Escapism and Modernity: Oskar Zwintscher, Art in 1900"], Museum Wiesbaden, February 24, 2023 - July 23, 2023

long-term continuing loan and exhibition, Albertinum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, from August 2023

Publication History:

Ausst. Kat. Oskar Zwintscher Gedächtnis-Ausstellung. Sächsischer Kunstverein zu Dresden. April/Mai 1916, S. 29, Nr. 89 ("Bildnis der Gattin des Künstlers in Hamsterjacke") [Exhibition Catalogue, Oskar Zwintscher Memorial Exhibition. Saxon Art Association, Dresden. April / May 1916, p. 29, no. 89 ("Portrait of the Artist's Wife in Hamster Jacket")]

Rolf Günther: Oskar Zwintscher 1870-1916. Leben und Werk mit dem Werkverzeichnis der Gemälde. Freital 1999, Nr. 120.  [Rolf Günther: Oskar Zwintscher 1870-1916. Life and Work with the Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings. Freital 1999, No. 120]

Andreas Dehmer, " 'Adele im Hamsterpelz' - Prélude zum 150. Geburtstag von Oskar Zwintscher," Kupferstich-Kabinett im Dialog, Dresdener Kunstblätter , Heft 2/2020 (Dresden: Sandstein Verlag, 2020), pgs. 74-78, ill. 2 at pg. 75.

Andreas Dehmer and Birgit Dalbajewa, eds., Oskar Zwintscher im Albertinum (Dresden: Sandstein Verlag, 2021), pgs. 100-103, ill. pg. 100 ("Adele Zeitscher im Hamsterpelz").

Andreas Dehmer and Birgit Dalbajewa, eds., Weltflucht und Moderne: Oskar Zwintscher in der Kunst um 1900 (Dresden: Sandstein Verlag, 2022).

Andreas Dehmer and Claudia Maria Müller, "Oskar Zwintscher in Loschwitz: Zauberwelt fernab des Strassenlärms," Der Elbhang-Kurier, 5/2022, pgs. 26-27, ill. at pg. 26.

Susanne Altmann, "Nervöse Anspannung" ["Nervous Tension"], Art: das Kunstmagazin (2022), 5, pgs. 106-107, ill. at pg. 107.

Oliver Koerner von Gustorf, “Das verschlüsselte Leben / Life Encrypted,”

August (Ein Magazin der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden), July 2022, pgs. 22-33, ill. at pg. 25.

Andreas Dehmer and Susanna Partsch, Symphonie in Schwarz: Eine Spurensuche zwischen Lebensreform, Frauenbewegung und Boheme (Berlin and Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2023), ill. 49 at pg. 79.




The German painter Oskar Zwintscher (1870-1916) was one of the most important representatives of the Symbolist movement in eastern Germany (Saxony) at the turn of the 19th century. Born in Leipzig, May 2, 1870, Zwintscher studied at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, 1890-92; worked in Meissen for a number of years thereafter; and then taught in Dresden from 1903 where he became a professor at the Academy.

In 1892, in Meissen, Zwintscher met Adele Ebelt (1872-1940) and married her in 1898. Adele was not only his wife, but his muse and most frequent model. Between 1894 and 1916, Oskar immortalized Adele in no less than 15 paintings. Dating from 1914, “The Woman in Hamster” is Oskar’s last finished portrait of Adele before his premature death at the age of 46 on February 12, 1916.

“The Woman in Hamster” is a modernist study of pattern and texture, and of endearment and melancholy. Seated against a wall decorated with an art nouveau (Jugendstil) wallpaper, Adele wears a flamboyant ostrich-feather hat and a striking jacket constructed out of numerous hamster pelts that have been stitched together. With thin, pale skin and dark shadows beneath her eyes, there is a weariness about her as she pulls her jacket close and perhaps also a sense of gloomy foreboding, for Europe is plunging into war and her husband Oskar would die only two years later. (One can make an interesting comparison with “The Woman in Gold: Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer,” the famous painting of 1907 by Gustav Klimt, Zwintscher’s Austrian contemporary, as well as with Klimt’s other portraits.)

Oskar Zwintscher was not only an important representative of the Symbolist movement, but he was also a precursor of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) movement, which arose in Europe after the First World War. His artwork is in fact a bridge between Symbolism and Neue Sachlichkeit in German modern art; and this painting, “The Woman in Hamster,” in particular, seems to foreshadow the melancholy often expressed in the art of the post-war period associated with the Neue Sachlichkeit.


Jack Daulton
The Daulton Collection
Los Altos Hills, California