• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7703

    Impressionist/Modern Works on Paper

    5 February 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 189

    Emil Nolde (1867-1956)

    Marschlandschaft mit Mühle

    Price Realised  

    Emil Nolde (1867-1956)
    Marschlandschaft mit Mühle
    signed 'Nolde.' (lower right)
    watercolour on Japan paper
    13¾ x 18 5/8 in. (35 x 47.3 cm.)
    Executed circa 1920-1925


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    This work is sold with a photo-certificate from Dr Manfred Reuther, from the Nolde Stiftung, Seebüll.


    Nolde grew up the son of a farmer in North Schleswig, on the Danish-German border. Born Emil Hansen, he took the name of his birthplace, Nolde, as his surname in 1902. Throughout his life and artistic career, a profound emotional tie bound him with the 'native soil' as he called his homeland, and the wide, flat marshland near the coast with its high skies and heavy clouds, bathed in changing light, was one of his favourite subjects of his art and an inexhaustible source of inspiration. 'Our landscape is modest, far from being exhilarating or luscious, we know that, and yet, it gives to the intimate beholder who loves it an abundance of heartfelt, quiet beauty, of harsh greatness and even of tempestuously wild life' (E. Nolde, Reisen, Ächtung, Befreiung, Cologne, 1967, p. 9).

    From 1905, Nolde and his wife Ada would regularly spend the winter in Berlin, the centre of the new Expressionist movement, but sought the familiarity of the Western coast of Schleswig-Holstein during the summer. Marschlandschaft depicts the environment near Tondern, where the couple had bought the farmhouse 'Utenwarf' in 1916, and picks up the main compositional elements of the farm with windmill owned by Nolde's neighbour Boy Petersen, which Nolde had painted in oil several times between 1920 and 1924.

    Watercolour was as important a means of expression for Nolde as oil painting, and the medium with which he most freely experimented. From 1908 onwards, he allowed chance to partake in the creative production, pre-soaking the highly absorbent Japan paper so that through the application of the colours, they would run into each other, creating unforeseen blotches and forms, some of which he would then pick out and further strengthen or outline with a brush. In much the same way, the layered, wavy bands of clouds forming the evening sky in Marschlandschaft are intensified by black contours, as is the farmland; and the narrow stretch of orange hinting at the setting sun intensifies the overall dramatic atmosphere. The graphic, almost wood-cut like quality of the work recalls Nolde's early training as a wood-carver. The tiny windmill and farmhouses or dykes appear as mere ciphers of man's activity in an enormous, self-sufficient landscape.

    Despite their rather small format, these abstract works encapsulate the monumentality and beauty of the vast, sparse Northern landscape, in a way that is very much a part of the tradition of Northern Romantic landscape painting and its invocation of powerful, animated nature as a projection space for man's inner feelings. Ultimately, for Nolde, nature was a metaphor for his own deep-rooted sense of belonging to his native soil, and his desire to be the driving force of a 'strong, austere, and spiritual Nordic art' (E. Nolde, Welt und Heimat, Cologne, 2002, p. 116).

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    Galerie Hofmann, Hamburg.
    Landeszentralbank, Hamburg, by whom acquired from the above in 1951.
    Dr Friedrich Priess, a gift from the above in 1956, and thence by descent to the present owners.