This is one of a number of watercolor drawings that came from the Younsgsville, NC estate of Dr. Arthur Tilo Alt (1931-2019)--a scholar and professor of German in Yiddish language and literature in the Judaic studies program at Duke University. Born in Java, Indonesia, Alt's family returned to their native Germany in 1933, where Tilo grew up in West Berlin, ultimately moving to the U.S. in 1956 to study at the University of Texas. All indications are that Alt (Jewish, I assume) lived in Berlin during WWII, which is the period during which these drawings would have been made--making these poignant drawings seem all the more so, and also like significant historical documents.
Knowing the context, this portrait (I would guess likely based on a photograph, perhaps from the newspaper) of a blonde haired, blue eyed, larger than life Red Cross nurse becomes fraught. One assumes she is tending to German soldiers at the hospital in the background. What to make of her? And what to think about what Alt made of her? Raising questions about empathy, and complicity, and what it means and implies to serve and to deliver care, i can’t stop looking at it, and thinking about it.
11" x 8 1/4". Pencil and watercolor on natural colored construction paper. A tear and fold at the bottom left corner and a little wear along the bottom edge but overall good condition. Signed with what appears to be a "Ia" at top left, likely referring to Alt's class in school.
Arthur Tilo Alt. Education: Doctor of Philosophy, University Texas, 1964; diploma Yiddish Language & Literature, Columbia University, 1974.
Career: Instructor, Duke U., Durham, North Carolina, 1961-1965; assistant professor, Duke U., Durham, 1967-1977; associate professor, Duke U., Durham, 1978-1988; professor German and Judaic studies, Duke U., Durham, since 1989; assistant professor, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts, 1965-1967. Visiting assistant professor Columbia University, New York City, summers 1967-1968