Gerda Wegener - Lilli Elbe

Lilli Elbe

Gerda Wegener

1886 – 1940


Danish born Gerde Gottlieb was educated at the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen, graduating in 1908.  Inspired by fashion, she and her artist husband, Einar Wegener, moved to Paris, where her work was frequently seen in Vogue and La Vie Parisienne. Gerda and Einar were happy to be a part of the Bohemian lifestyle of Paris at that time. However, when Gerda was without a female model Einar sat for her instead, dressed as a female, and taking the name Lilli Elbe. Einar – Lilli – ultimately transgendered surgically, in 1930, one of the first to do so, sadly dying of complications in 1931.

Gerda remarried, unhappily, and died in obscurity in 1940, about the time Nazi troops entered Denmark.

In 2000, a book, The Danish Girl, based on Gerda’s and Einar’s lives, was an international success, and the film, The Danish Girl, made in 2015 with Eddie Redmayne as Lilli was based on the book.

Gouache on card

16½” x 11” image

17½” x 12” frame