These sketches of a woman, probably Rothko’s wife Edith Sachar (1912–1981), depict her sitting at a table and holding what appears to be a small hammer. In the mid-1930s, Edith studied metalwork and jewelry. These drawings, and a closely related study, likely picture Edith practicing her craft; all relate to a watercolor of Edith at her worktable. Late in the 1930s Rothko produced a small series of sketches (see Related Works on Paper) and still-life paintings of what are almost certainly Edith’s tools (figs. 1, 2), including what appears to be a ball-peen hammer similar to the one shown in these drawings. Edith taught crafts part-time at the Center Academy of the Brooklyn Jewish Center [James E. B. Breslin, Mark Rothko: A Biography (Chicago and London, 1993), 143], where Rothko taught art two days a week.
Mark Rothko: Works on Paper will ultimately document approximately 2,600 works from public and private collections worldwide. Cataloging is ongoing, and works and information will be added to the site during the coming years.