EINAR WEGENER / LILI ELBE (1882/1931), DANISH PAINTER – Four surgical interventions to change his male body to female forms and name from Einar to Lili


EINAR WEGENER / LILI ELBE 1/3 – From his diaries, a writer has compiled his life story. The book “Men in a Woman” was published in 1933. He was born in Vejle (Denmark), and was a transsexual painter, the first to opt for sex reassignment among the discreet clinic walls. As a teenager, he moved to Copenhagen to study art, but only after marrying Gerda Gottlieb (who studied at the art school in Copenhagen), he realized his intimate identity. It is likely that he had Klinefelter’s syndrome, a chromosomal abnormality, in which a male has one more X chromosome. He specializes in landscape paintings, while her wife illustrated books and fashion magazines. Extremely sensitive, he had a strange interest in women’s clothing. Einar and Gerda traveled all over Europe, even on the island of Capri (where they lived in Villa Cercola, a secluded place on the outskirts of the village), until in 1912, they decided to live permanently in Paris, where he decided to live as a woman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI2XxdRCtHE They had spent their first night in Paris at the Hotel d’Alsace, in the room where had been Oscar Wilde, too.

EINAR WEGENER / LILI ELBE 2/3 – The experience, they chose to live changed their lives. Wearing female clothes, Einar became a model for Gerda’s paintings, choosing a new name: Lili Elbe. The two appeared regularly in public, where Gerda was presented as Einar’s cousin (but only few friends knew the secret of Lili’s transsexuality). He decided to live his life as a woman, also undergoing four surgical interventions, to change his male body to female forms. This far-fetched love story was a background of a movie called “The Danish Girl” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d88APYIGkjk (based on David Ebershoff’s novel, published in 2001) in 2015. Seeing this movie you will find, these two artists are presented through their own pictorial work.

EINAR WEGENER / LILI ELBE 3/3 –He loved painting the Kattegat sea and returned to the fishermen’s home. Observing his works, you can find, that sky he painted, was always gray, the which is color of sadness. A decree of the king of Denmark had canceled his marriage with Gerda, giving to Lili Elbe a new passport. In personal diaries, he described his changes as a rebirth in the woman, he felt to be. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WGPybR5FE0 He had also decided not to paint anymore, because the illustrator was a work belonging to Einar. Man with male body and woman’s passport died in Dresden at the age of 49 – for post-operative complications.

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