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    Sale 7599

    Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale

    24 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 67

    Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (German, 1884-1976)

    Der Garten

    Price Realised  


    Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (German, 1884-1976)
    Der Garten
    signed and dated 'S.Rottluff 1906' (lower right)
    oil on board
    32¾ x 25 5/8 in. (83.2 x 65.1 cm.)
    Painted in 1906

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    The summer of 1906 that Karl Schmidt-Rottluff spent with Emil Nolde and his wife Ada on the island of Alsen, painting amongst the luscious flower gardens of the fishermen's cottages of Nolde's neighbours was an important one for both artists, prompting a major development in both their work. Der Garten (The Garden) of 1906 is one of the finest paintings that Schmidt-Rottluff made during this important and memorable summer with the older artist.

    At twenty-one years old, Schmidt-Rottluff was the youngest of the die Brücke painters and seventeen years Nolde's junior when he visited him in Alsen in 1906. Yet, despite this, it was he who was primarily instrumental amongst the artists of Die Brücke in persuading Nolde to join this 'Expressionist' group of painters, and also inadvertently, in Nolde's ultimate decision to leave again only eighteen months later. In February 1906, Schmidt-Rottluff had written to Nolde asking him to join Die Brücke, which Nolde subsequently did and soon afterwards invited the younger artist to join him in Alsen to work together over the summer. Schmidt-Rottluff stayed with the Noldes between May and September in a fisherman's cottage the couple had rented on the Baltic island near the village of Guderup.

    During the ensuing months the two artists developed a friendship and strong artistic respect for one another that would endure for many years afterwards. Nolde even painted a portrait of his young friend at this time and fondly recalled this summer in his autobiography written many years later. 'In the late hours of the afternoon, he (Schmidt-Rottluff) stood in front of our small Alsenhaus, following our invitation and bringing greetings from the young friends (in Dresden). He stayed for several weeks as our guest. We talked together about art, and many other philosophies, as young painters like to do. I admired his perceptiveness and his knowledge, and only had a little to say when there was talk of Nietzsche or Kant, or other such magnitudes. I don't know from where I was supposed to have such knowledge. When we all went to work, he would go alone to the other end of the forest and only come back once in a while, when haunted by woe or loneliness. Later, (after his return to Dresden), maybe in similar moments devoid of happiness, he would write us letters, pouring his heart out about his feelings, and it was these that became the reason why I left the 'Brücke'. But they were only the direct cause. I always have had difficulty with what is possibly an inevitable source of friction between human and artistic values and I disliked the developing uniformity of these young artists (Die Brücke group), who more often than not produced works that were barely distinguishable because of their unified ethic. I embarked on my artistic path alone once again, but I remained affectionate regarding their ethos, and a friend to their art. My membership in their union lasted one and a half years. Later - 6 years later - when they split up, it became evident how important it was for everyone to go their own separate ways' (E. Nolde, Autobiography, 1931, quoted in exh. cat., Schmidt-Rottluff Retrospective, Munich, 1989, pp. 78-9).

    It was during this summer of 1906 that Nolde, in the company of Schmidt-Rottluff, first began to paint a series of paintings whose subject was solely the flowers, plants and other natural forms then blooming in the gardens of the many neighbouring fishermen's cottages of Guderup. This tradition, begun in 1906, was one that Nolde would continue for the rest of his life and with which he would produce many of his finest works. In 1906, both painters were strongly feeling the influence of Van Gogh, whose work they had seen the previous year in detail during a major touring retrospective of the Dutch artist's work in Germany. It was this shared passion for Van Gogh that each brought to the paintings they made in the gardens of Alsen.

    Responding to the light and brilliant colour of these gardens, both Nolde and Schmidt-Rottluff filled their canvases with raw colour squeezed straight form the tube and applied, with thick heavy impasto, brushstrokes that clashed, one against the other in a fierce celebration of the vigour and energy of nature. 'I always wanted to show the vital essence and the calm life of things,' Schmidt-Rottluff said (K. Schmidt-Rottluff quoted in op. cit., 1998, p. 205). Der Garten is not only one of Schmidt-Rottluff's finest paintings from this summer, it is also the work in which his art comes closest to the pure colourism of Nolde's celebrated flower and garden paintings. Infused with deep reds and oranges, that contrast strongly with the complimentary opposites of a deep pale blue, reflecting either the light of dawn and of late afternoon, this radiant panoply of heavily worked colour marks is at turns both warm and cool, and symbolises the beginning of a period of liberation for Schmidt-Rottluff. For it was through the colourism that exploded in his art in Alsen in 1906, that Schmidt-Rottluff learned the expressive power of an art rooted in an instantaneous and intuitive response to the natural force of the external stimuli - a response unfettered by the labyrinth of thought but driven by the raw emotion of the artist's inner being.

    'Concerning myself I know that I have no program, only the inner longing to grasp what I see and feel and to find its purest expression. At this point I only know that these are things I come close to through art, not intellectually nor by means of the word' (K. Schmidt-Rottluff, 'Das Neue Programm: Antwort auf eine Rundfrage über künstlerische Programme', Kunst und Kunstler, vol. 12, Berlin, 1914, p. 308).

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    Galerie Bremer, Berlin.
    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, 14 November 1990, lot 383.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
    Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (on loan).

    Pre-Lot Text



    Exh. cat., Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Werke aus der Sammlung des Brücke-Museum Berlin, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich, 1997 (illustrated fig. 10, p. 16).
    U. Peters & A. Legde, Kulturgeschichtliche Spaziergänge im Germanischen Nationalmuseum: Moderne Zeiten, Die Sammlung zum 20. Jahrhundert, Nuremberg, 2000 (illustrated).
    Exh. cat., Colección Brücke-Museum Berlin, Fundación Juan March, Madrid, 2000 (illustrated fig. 10, p. 16).


    Dusseldorf, Städtische Kunstsammlungen, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Der Maler, October - December 1992, no. 7 (illustrated p. 43); this exhibition later travelled to Chemnitz, Kunstsammlungen, January - March 1993 and Berlin, Brücke-Museum, April - July 1993.
    Altenburg, Lindenau-Museum, Internationale Sprachen der Kunst: Gemälde, Zeichnungen und Skulpturen der Klassischen Moderne aus der Sammlung Hoh, August - October 1998, no. 77, pp. 205-206 (illustrated p. 207); this exhibition later travelled to Osnabrück, Kulturgeschichtliches Museum Felix-Nussbaum-Haus, February - May 1999; Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, September 1999 - January 2000 and Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, March - July 2000.
    Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: ein Maler des 20. Jahrhunderts von 1905 bis 1972, September 2001 - January 2002, no. 10 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Kiel, Kunsthalle, January - April 2002 and Leipzig, Museum der bildenden Künste, April - July 2002.
    Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Expressiv!, March - August 2003.
    Hamburg, Ernst Barlach Haus, Kunst ohne Grenzen: Werke der internationalen Avantgarde von 1910 bis 1940 aus der Sammlung Hoh, January - April 2005, no. 1 (illustrated p. 21).
    Berlin, Brücke Museum, Brücke: Die Geburt des deutschen Expressionismus, October 2005 - January 2006, no. 47 (illustrated p. 154).
    Emden, Kunsthalle, Garten Eden. Der Garten in der Kunst seit 1900, December 2007 - March 2008 (illustrated p. 195).