Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF CARL HAGEMANN
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976)

Badende am Strand

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976)
Badende am Strand
signed and inscribed 'Schmidt=Rottluff „Badende am Strand"' (on the stretcher); signed again 'Schmidt=Rottluff' (on the original frame)
oil on canvas
44 1/8 x 38 5/8 in. (112 x 98 cm.)
Painted in 1922
Ludwig Schames, Frankfurt.
Dr Carl Hagemann, Frankfurt, by whom acquired from the above in 1924, and thence by descent to the present owner.
W. Grohmann, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Stuttgart, 1956, p. 293 (illustrated p. 95).
B. Myers, The German Expressionists: A Generation in Revolt, New York, 1957.
U. Peters, 'Ursprünglich statt zivilisiert: der Primitivismus', in U. Peters & A. Legde, eds., Moderne Zeiten: die Sammlung zum 20. Jahrhundert im Germanischen Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, 2000.
Kirchner, Schmidt-Rottluff, Nolde, Nay… Briefe an den Sammler und Mäzen Carl Hagemann, 1906-1940, Ostfildern, 2004, pp. 203-205, 211-212, 365-366 & 394-395.
Essen, Museum Folkwang, Ausstellung zur Eröffnung des neuen Folkwangmuseums, 1929.
Essen, Museum Folkwang, possibly on loan January - September 1933.
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Expressionisme: van Gogh tot Picasso, 1949.
Mannheim, Sta¨dtische Kunsthalle, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, 1951.
Freiburg, Kunstverein, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, August - September 1951.
Stuttgart, Wu¨rttembergischer Kunstverein, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, October 1951.
Berlin, Schloss Charlottenburg, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff zum 70. Geburtstag: Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Graphik, Skulpturen, September - October 1954.
Frankfurt, Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Künstler der Brücke in der Sammlung Hagemann: Kirchner, Heckel, Schmidt-Rottluff, Nolde, December 2004 - January 2005, no. 113, p. 185 (illustrated p. 71); this exhibition later travelled to Essen, Museum Folkwang, February - May 2005.
On loan to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, 1981-2014.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

‘I would like to establish a connection between the universal and what is of this earth. Perhaps one may say this is an eroticism intensified into the transcendental.’
(Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, ‘Undated Letter to Gustav Schiefler', quoted in German Expressionist sculpture, exh. cat., Los Angeles, 1984, p. 183).

Forming part of the collection of Carl Hagemann, one of the most important patrons, supporters and collectors of Die Brücke, Badende am Strand is one of the finest and most mature of Karl Schmidt-Rottluff’s paintings of his favourite and most enduring subject: nude bathers on the beach. An outstanding example of the dramatic, mature Expressionist style that the artist developed in the early 1920s, Badende am Strand has for the last 34 years been on permanent loan to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg.

‘The rhythm, the rustling of colours, that’s what always enthrals and occupies me', Schmidt-Rottluff once observed, and in Badende am Strand it is this aspect of the artist’s delight in producing an immediate, spontaneous and colour-filled response to the natural scene in front of him that has been taken to a new height of maturity and intensity (Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, 1907, quoted in U. Lorenz, Brücke, Cologne, 2008, p. 62). Comprising solely of a collation of intensely vibrant, angular flat planes of colour that have been dramatically co-ordinated into a persuasive formal unity, the painting articulates both a sense of the heat and carefree joy of a beach scene and of the painter’s own joy in painting this subject. In apparent explosion of freeform brushstrokes applied directly to the rough canvas ground and a near-abstract play of intensely radiant pure colour worthy of painters such as Matisse and de Kooning, Badende am Strand is a work that openly demonstrates the raw and intuitive nature of its own manner and process of creation.

Painted in 1922, Badende am Strand derives from one of the most important periods in Schmidt-Rottluff’s career when the artist was consciously forging a new, freer, more intense and optimistic form of Expressionist painting in the immediate aftermath of the First World War. After a prolonged period working throughout the war years to intensify and liberate the forms and colours of his paintings and sculptures, Schmidt-Rottluff now translated this hard-won new freedom in his work into a series of more open, direct, joyously spontaneous works of which Badende am Strand is one of the finest examples.

‘I now feel a strong pressure to create something as intense as possible’, Schmidt-Rottluff had written in response to outbreak of war. ‘The war has swept away for me all that is past, all appears weak, and I suddenly see things in their awesome power. I never liked that sort of art which is a beautiful fascination for the eyes and nothing more, and I feel in an elementary way that one must grasp even more powerful forms so powerful that they can withstand the impact of a people’s lunacy’ (Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, undated letter of 1914 to Ernst Beyersdorff, quoted in German Expressionist Sculpture, exh. cat., Los Angeles, 1984, p. 183).

Marking a development of these tendencies in Schmidt-Rottluff’s work which he had pursued throughout the war in cubistically-derived paintings and more especially raw, angular carved wooden sculpture, Badende am Strand revisits the quintessential Brücke group theme of the pastoral idyll and the depiction of man living in simple, primitivist harmony with nature. It is in this respect reflective of Die Brücke’s atavistic longing to re-establish what they saw as the invigorating existentialist bond between man and nature – a bond that they saw at work in the art of so-called ‘primitive’ cultures, but one which had since been broken by modern civilization and only further exacerbated by five long years of war. Part of a widespread revolutionary belief, current in the turbulent post-war years in Germany, that the values of Expressionism could be put to use healing this rift, Badende am Strand is a work that articulates an idealized vision of a new era, in which raw emotion, simple pleasure and the harmonious integration of man within his natural environment could pave the way to a better future.

As Schmidt-Rottluff had once written after an early encounter with such scenes of simple pleasure on the beach in Dangast, ‘Painting here can actually mean only: surrender in the face of nature’ (Karl Schmidt-Rotluff, ‘Letter to Gustav Schiefler, 1909’, quoted in U. Lorenz, Brücke, Cologne, 2008, p. 62). Taking as his subject this same familiar theme of Die Brücke art - bathers on the beach - Schmidt-Rottluff here presents the subject as a demonstrable play of integrated formal elements in such a way that the painting conjures a powerful visual sensation of the scene rather than a figurative description of it. In Badende am Strand, radiant colour, such as the blue of the female nude’s body in the foreground, now extends beyond the contours of her form to become also shadows on the sand and in this way, an almost autonomous abstract entity in itself. Here, colour harmony and its careful and proportionate use throughout the picture establishes the power and impact of the painting while the formal figurative aspects of the work are forcefully reduced to a simplistic bare minimum. One of the most radical and near abstract, in this respect, of all Schmidt-Rottluff’s paintings, Badende am Strand is a work that not only represents a culmination in the direction his painting took after the First World War, but also stands as one of the most interesting and significant of all the artist’s works.

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