• Impressionist/Modern Works on  auction at Christies

    Sale 7832

    Impressionist/Modern Works on Paper

    3 February 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 220

    Emil Nolde (1867-1956)


    Price Realised  


    Emil Nolde (1867-1956)
    signed 'Nolde' (lower right)
    watercolour on Japan paper
    12½ x 18¾ in. (32 x 47.7 cm.)
    Executed circa 1930-1940

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

    Emil Nolde is one of the great masters of twentieth-century watercolour. At his best, he brought something important and innovative to the notoriously difficult medium, executing works with a tremendous assurance of touch and an unrivalled fluidity and spontaneity. Meer is a vibrant and subtle watercolour that perfectly embodies Nolde's idiosyncrasy.

    Nolde began working with watercolours whilst teaching in St Gallen in Switzerland during the 1890s, but it was not until he involved the laws of chance with aspects of his technique that he felt he began to show true mastery of the medium. Painting outdoors in Cospeda near Jena in 1907 and 1908, Nolde allowed nature to intervene in his practice, watching with pleasure as the falling snow melted onto his work, making the colours run into one another and crystallize on the page. This happenstance collaboration with the elements signified a great leap forward in Nolde's work and from that point forward, watercolour took a central role in his artistic practice, occupying him continually until his death in 1956.

    As examplified in Meer, the ever-changing conditions of the sea were an important and recurrent feature of both his life and his art. For Nolde, who grew up on the coast and was to spend almost all his life near the ocean, the sea was an imposing and powerful presence. Believing, like many of his Expressionist colleagues, that colour was a direct means of expressing emotion, Nolde used his subjects as a means to convey atmosphere and feeling through luminous colour. For the heavy and brooding intensity of this seascape, Nolde piled pigments atop one another to create a highly emotive play of colour and light. As a painter, Nolde compared this layering of colour to the orchestration of music, stating: 'colours are my notes, which I use to form harmonizing or contrasting sounds and chords' (cited in 'Fulfilling Fear', Time Magazine, 17 March 1967).

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Galerie Pels-Leusden, Berlin.
    Acquired from the above in 1958 and thence by descent; sale, Christie's, London, 5 February 2008, lot 556.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.