Painted in 1908 and acquired by Hans Fehr in 1910, Blaue Stiefmütterchen (Violas) is one of several early flower paintings made by Nolde in which, working within the legacy of Vincent Van Gogh, the artist deliberately sought to echo and mimic the procreative colour and bloom of nature through the texture, brushstroke and creativity of his own painting.
For Nolde, his lifelong love of flowers was deeply rooted with his profound sense of 'Heimat' that began in his mother's garden in the village of Nolde when Emil was a child. There, Nolde later recalled, 'I often walked with her in the garden... and so I could not help but watch all the flowers as they grew, blossomed and shone forth. There was a bed of noble red roses where I would sometimes cut back the wild, thorny shoots for her. All the flowers bloomed for her pleasure and for mine, and the sun shone out over the garden.' (Emil Nolde Das eigene Leben (1867-1902), Cologne, 1994, p. 120).
In this witnessing of the natural life-cycle of flowers rooted to and later blooming and dying in their own native soil Nolde recognised a clear metaphor for the way he felt about his own art and life. 'In painting I always hoped that through me, as the painter, the colours would take effect on the canvas as logically as nature creates her configurations, as ore and crystals form, as moss and algae grow, as flowers must unfold and bloom under the rays of the sun' (Emil Nolde, Jahre der Kämpfe 1902-1914, Berlin, 1934, p. 107).