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The painting depicts an acquaintance of Konrad Mägi, Claire (Klara) Auguste Holst, whose life from childhood on was spent in culture-friendly atmosphere. Klara’s mother was Vanemuine Theatre actor and singer Emilie-Elise Allik, who also happens to be the great grandmother of actor and director Kaarel Kilvet (through Klara’s sister). Klara’s older daughter Lea Holst-Murnay (née Lea Bednartschik) worked in Estonia as a stage director and actress and in England she served as the head of the Estonian drama group in Bradford. Klara had two daughters with one of Estonia’s most successful businessmen, Robert Artur Holst. Robert died in 1943 in captivity at the hands of the NKVD and a year later, their daughter Lea fled Estonia, her husband also having died a victim of the repressions. It isn’t known when Klara left, but both women lived for an extended time in England at the end of their lives. Less details are known about the life of her younger daughter Eva, just as there is little information known about Klara’s activities abroad. But in Estonia, she was socially active, being a founding member of the Union of Estonian Women’s Organizations and Pallas Art Society. Klara’s acquaintance with Mägi goes back to the Pallas days and it seems they were close friends. Mägi painted portraits of Klara on many occasions and the first known work is the Portrait of Claire Holst (1914). Portrait of a Lady is noteworthy because like the drawing (1920–1921) and painting (undated) of the same name, it shows a highly individualized woman brimming with health, which is atypical for Mägi’s female portrayals. Klara has distinctive facial features and physical form, and possesses character. In Portrait of a Lady, she casts her bold gaze at the viewer and emanates self-awareness and satisfaction, human warmth. We can conclude that Mägi wanted to paint the positive personality traits of a person he was close to; among other things, Klara’s wealth is emphasized. Klara was financially independent and it is possible that along with her husband they were benefactors of Mägi’s.
The reproduction of these works without the express written consent of the owner of the works is prohibited.