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    Sale 7702

    Impressionist/Modern, Day Sale

    5 February 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 411

    Emil Nolde (1867-1956)

    Stilleben (Maske und Tier)

    Price Realised  


    Emil Nolde (1867-1956)
    Stilleben (Maske und Tier)
    signed 'Nolde' (lower right); signed and inscribed 'Emil Nolde: "Stilleben" (Maske und Tier)' (on the stretcher)
    oil on canvas
    29½ x 13 7/8 in. (75 x 35.2 cm.)
    Painted in 1913

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    The present work belongs to a series of eighteen still-life paintings that Nolde executed in 1913 which take as their subject objects in his own collection and artefacts and cult objects in the Ethnographic Museum in Berlin. Like most of his Expressionist colleagues, Nolde found inspiration in the art of non-European cultures which provided him with a more direct, visual expression of emotion. Nolde wrote that he was interested in the 'grotesque expression of power' and 'elemental force' and his depictions of masks from the Ethnographic Museum supplied just such raw, emotional imagery. The idea of man and nature existing in harmony, untouched by civilization, preoccupied the imagination of many Expressionist artists for whom Gauguin's experiences in the South Seas were legendary. In fact Nolde and his wife Ada got a chance to experience their own exotic journey when they accepted an invitation to travel with the 'Medical and Demographic Expedition to German New Guinea'. Leaving in October 1913, the journey took them through Russia, Manchuria, Korea, Japan, China, Manila and the Palau Islands en route to their destination. Nolde later remarked in his memoirs: 'This one year was so unendingly rich that it seemed to contain ten years of my life' (E. Nolde, Mein Leben, Cologne, 1976, p. 305). When he returned to Germany in 1914 he had acquired many porcelain works and other sculptures which provided him with a new repertoire of exotic motifs for his still life compositions.

    Nolde purposefully brought together objects from different cultures in various and surprising combinations, creating novel and provocative juxtapositions. As in the present painting, he paired European and non-Western artefacts, various exotic objects, and decorative and high arts. In a letter of 1913, Nolde commented on the priority of aesthetic criteria, stating: 'It seems to me that the best solution is attained when the finest works of art of the most diverse periods and quite different genres are placed or hung next to each other, provided that they really go together as regards their colour and form, the most different works of art in juxtaposition set themselves off from one another and thereby heighten the effect' (quoted in P. Vergo & F. Lunn, Emil Nolde, London, 1996, p. 149).

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    Dr Wilhelm Valentiner, Detroit, Michigan, by circa 1918.
    Brigitta Valentiner-Bertoia, Barto, Pennsylvania, by descent from the above.
    Alice Adam, Chicago.
    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, 22 October 1980, lot 71.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    The artist's handlist, 1910, no. 460 (as '1913 Stilleben (Kopf auf Stange)').
    The artist's handlist, 1930 (as '1913 Stilleben (Maske und Tier)').
    M. Urban, Emil Nolde, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil-Paintings, vol. I, 1895-1914, London, 1987, no. 546 (illustrated p. 477).


    Basel, Kunsthalle, Moderne deutsche Malerei, 1921, no. 63.
    New York, Anderson Galleries, Modern German Art, 1923, no. 149.
    Minneapolis, University of Minnesota, University Art Gallery, German Expressionism, 1951 (illustrated).