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Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941)
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Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941)

Landschaftstudie - Dorfstrasse

Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941)
Landschaftstudie - Dorfstrasse
oil on board
13 x 16¾ in. (33 x 42.6 cm.)
Painted circa 1908
Anonymous sale, Kunstkabinett, Stuttgart, 3-5 May 1962, lot 176.
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owners.
M. Jawlensky, L. Pieroni-Jawlensky & A. Jawlensky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, Volume One 1890-1914, London, 1991, no. 206, p. 183 (illustrated p. 176).
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Giovanna Bertazzoni
Giovanna Bertazzoni

Lot Essay

Between 1908 and 1910, Alexej von Jawlensky spent many of his summers in the Bavarian village of Murnau. Landschaftstudie - Dorfstrasse, painted circa 1908, appears stylistically to date from the first of these trips, made with his extended family (Marianne von Werefkin, his future wife Helene, and his son Andreas). They went in the company of Jawlensky's friend and fellow Russian artist, Wassily Kandinsky, as well as his partner, the painter Gabriele Munter. Jawlensky and Kandinsky in particular often worked together, painting side by side. Indeed, the palette of some of the pictures of this period, including Landschaftstudie - Dorfstrasse, appears to hint at their sharing paints. Landschaftstudie - Dorfstrasse is filled with sumptuous colours, which have been assembled in order that each heightens the intensity of the other, while nonetheless perfectly conveying the scene in Murnau.

Jawlensky's paintings in Murnau marked a significant breakthrough for the artist, building on the developments of the previous few years during which he had been exposed to a range of novel ideas, artists and techniques. A couple of years earlier in France, he had met Matisse and had doubtless seen the works of some of the other Fauve artists too, alongside his own works were exhibited. The palette in Landschaftstudie - Dorfstrasse bears some cousinship to their works, while the brushwork and composition alike may pay tribute to Vincent van Gogh (it was in 1908 that Jawlensky himself bought van Gogh's painting La maison du Père Pilon, of 1890).

At the same time, the atmosphere owes more to Jawlensky's deep-seated spiritual concerns, revealing his importance as one of the fathers, despite his original nationality, of German Expressionism. Jawlensky had been influenced more by the Nabis, including his friend Verkade, than by the stylistic adventures of his direct contemporaries. Looking at Landschaftstudie - Dorfstrasse, then, the viewer can perceive the degree to which Jawlensky was honing the thoughts, emotions and techniques that he had first developed only a few years earlier in France, of which he recalled:

'I came to understand how to translate nature into colour according to the fire in my soul... My paintings glowed with colour. I was deeply contented at that time... For the first time in my life I had grasped now to paint not what I saw but what I felt' (Jawlensky, quoted in 'Memoir dictated to Lisa Kümmel, Wiesbaden, 1937', in op. cit., London, 1991, p. 30).

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