Lili became Gerda's favorite model, and over time, Gerda became famous for her paintings of beautiful women with haunting almond-shaped eyes dressed in chic fashions.
In 1913, the art world was shocked when they learned that the model who had inspired Gerda's depictions of petite femmes fatales was in fact her husband Einar.
They traveled through Italy and France, eventually settling in Paris in 1912.
Gottlieb grew up in the provinces, in the village of Hammelev near the city of Grenaa, the daughter of Justine (née Østerberg) and Emil Gottlieb, a vicar in the Lutheran church.
Her father had Huguenot ancestry and her family was conservative.
The couple would often attend carnivals and other public festivals.
At the time, many considered Einar to be the more talented artist, but he toned down his own work and profile to help his wife in her artistic endeavors.
She had become a well-known artist in Paris but was less successful in Denmark, where people found her work too controversial.
She held exhibitions of her work at popular art studios around Europe.
Einar eventually identified as a male-to-female transgender woman.
In 1930 she underwent the second publicly known sex reassignment surgery in history after years of living life solely as Lili Elbe.
Her small estate was auctioned off and there was only a small obituary printed in the local paper.
There has been debate about whether or not she was a lesbian.
She then was the center of a controversy called the Peasant Painter Dispute after one of her works, a portrait of Ellen von Kohl, was rejected for exhibitions due to the style of the piece.