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Elisabeth Wolff: Girl Walking


sculpture of a naked, slender young woman

On August 19, 1934, the Reich Committee of Jewish Youth Associations held its first sports festival at the sporting facility in Grunewald Forest. Hilde Finkelstein was the first runner to cross the finish line in the girls’ relay race. On behalf of her club—"Ring, Federation of German Jewish Youth"—she accepted the rotating trophy that had been sponsored by the newspaper of the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith: a bronze sculpture of a girl walking, created by Elisabeth Wolff.

Elisabeth Wolff belonged to the first generation of female artists to be trained at state art academies in Germany. In the 1920s she became known for her small sculptures and portrait busts.  Starting in 1934, she regularly showed her work at the annual exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Sometime between 1935 and 1940 she emigrated to England.

All trace of Wolff was lost after 1947. Today more than twenty of her works are known from catalogues and magazines, but none have survived except for "Girl Walking."

The Jewish Museum was able to acquire the sculpture through a fortunate series of events. While the Nazis were still in power, a young woman entrusted the work to a married couple in Berlin, hoping to reclaim it at a later date. It is unknown whether the young woman was Hilde Finkelstein, for she never returned. In 1987 the couple presented "Girl Walking" to the curator of the Jewish Department of the Berlin Museum, requesting that the sculpture be returned to the owner if she ever came forward.

Object Details:
Girl Walking
Elisabeth Wolff (1898–after 1947)
1934
Bronze
78 x 44 x 23 cm

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