Born in Barcelona, Philipp Bauknecht (1884-1933) returned with his
German parents to Wurttemberg at the age of nine. Bauknecht trained in Stuttgart under the guidance of the Jugendstil painter Bernhard Pankok. In 1910 he fell gravely ill with tuberculosis and moved to Davos in Switzerland to recover. Shortly thereafter he began to paint in his mature, expressionist style. From 1916 onwards, Bauknecht exhibited frequently in Davos with many of his most striking colourist pictures depicting the local mountains and peasants working in the fields. In 1924 he exhibited in the Neue Deutsche Kunst exhibition in Stuttgart alongside Dix, Heckel, Kirchner, Klee and Schmidt-Rottluff.
Kirchner arrived in Davos in 1917 and his diaries and letters show that Bauknecht and Kirchner met several times between 1920 and 1926. Indeed they exhibited their paintings at the same gallery in Davos and it may therefore be presumed that the similarities between Bauknecht's paintings and the late work of Kirchner are more than coincidental.
After the artist's early death at the age of 49 his Dutch widow Ada van Blommestein decided to return, together with their son Eric, to the Netherlands. While Bauknecht's work in museum possession was being destroyed as being thought of as 'entartet' by the nazi regime, a large part of his oeuvre escapes from destruction in the attic of his widow, only to be rediscovered in 1960.
The present lot, Selbstbild III, is dated 1928. That same year Bauknecht painted another self portrait wearing the same jacket in the striking contrasting colours (fig. 1: Selbstbildnis mit Orang-Utang). Unlike Selbstbildnis mit Orang-Utang, which gives the impression of a double portrait, the present lot gives us an insight in the artist's studio. The mountains in the background do not reveil the view from the artist's studio but show 'Winterlandschaft Laret bei Davos' from 1928, (Smid 2002, p. 72), the painting at the left shows the only nude Bauknecht ever painted (Gelber Akt, Smid 2002, p. 22 ). It was his girlfriend Antonina Beljajewa who posed for it in 1915. Next to a flower still life at the lower right, it shows us several artist's tools, used for making his beautiful woodcuts.
Bauknecht stood out because of a very convincing independence and an individual will for artistic expression. His uncompromising use of colour made him to an important avant-garde artist. Bauknecht left a expressionist oeuvre which came to full growth, despite and because of the knowledge that all existence is finite. (Goia Smid, Philipp Bauknecht, Expressionist in Davos, Bussum 2002, p. 83)