Cornelis Ruhtenberg studied at the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst in Berlin from 1941 until 1946 and two years later immigrated to the United States. Ruhtenberg is primarily a painter of figures, but she explores neither psychological insight nor the appearance of her subjects. Instead she seeks pure, essential meaning and depicts her sitters caught in their own contemplative worlds. She paints in muted acrylic glazes—tawny golds, bisques, and beiges—and uses her subjects as vehicles for chromatic harmonies. Although detailed life studies are frequently the subjects of her drawings, and faithfully rendered furniture and objects populate her canvases, the figures in Ruhtenberg’s paintings are executed with a loose, painterly stroke.
Virginia M. Mecklenburg Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987)