Hermann Max Pechstein (1881-1955)
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION
Hermann Max Pechstein (1881-1955)

Stilleben mit Akt, Kachel und Früchten (recto); Kurische Waldlandschaft (verso)

Details
Hermann Max Pechstein (1881-1955)
Stilleben mit Akt, Kachel und Früchten (recto); Kurische Waldlandschaft (verso)
signed with monogram and dated 'HMP 1913' (upper right)
oil on canvas
38 7/8 x 39 in. (98.5 x 99 cm.)
Painted in 1913 (recto); Painted in 1912 (verso)
Provenance
Private collection, Stuttgart (by 1914 and until 1916).
Dr. Karl Lilienfeld, Leipzig (by 1917).
Dalzell Hatfield Galleries, Los Angeles (acquired from the above, circa 1965).
Van Diemen-Lilienfeld Galleries, New York.
Jack Rozmaryn, New York (acquired from the above, circa 1969 and until circa 1983).
Regis Corporation, Minneapolis (circa 1983).
Lafayette Parke Gallery, New York (1987-1989).
Anon. sale, Villa Grisebach, Berlin, 27 May 1994, lot 16.
Galerie Thomas, Munich.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, March 2003.
Literature
W.F. Storck, "Die Ausstellung des deutschen Künstlerbundes in Mannheim, 1913" in Die Kunst für Alle, 1 August 1913, vol. 28, no. 21, p. 487 (recto illustrated).
P. Fechter, "Zu neuen Arbeiten Max Pechsteins" in Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, April-September 1914, vol. 34, no. 7, p. 3 (recto illustrated).
W. Heymann, Max Pechstein, Munich, 1916, p. 23 (recto illustrated).
Max Pechstein: Sein malerisches Werk, exh. cat., Brücke-Museum, Berlin, 1996, p. 316, no. 78 (recto illustrated in color).
K. Holz, "Hermann Max Pechstein" in New Worlds: German and Austrian Art, 1890-1940, exh. cat., Neue Galerie, New York, 2001, p. 200 (illustrated).
A. Soika, Max Pechstein: Das Werkverzeichnis der Ölgemälde, 1905-1918, Munich, 2011, vol. 1, pp. 385 and 420, nos. 1912/18 and 1913/4 (verso and recto illustrated in color, respectively; recto illustrated in color again, p. 385; verso illustrated in color again, p. 420).
Exhibited
Kunsthalle Mannheim, Ausstellung des deutschen Künstlerbundes, May-September 1913, p. 23, no. 267 (illustrated).
(possibly) Leipzig Kunstverein, Max Pechstein, March 1917, no. 18.
Leipzig Kunstverein, Museum am Augustusplatz, Austellung Moderner Kunst aus Privatbesitz, April-May 1922, no. 149.
Chemnitz, 1922.
Kunsthalle Bern, H.M. Pechstein, June-July 1923, no. 16.
New York, Lilienfeld Galleries, Max Pechstein, October-November 1938, no. 1.
Los Angeles, Dalzell Hatfield Galleries and New York, Van Diemen-Lilienfeld Galleries, Max Pechstein, March-June 1959 (recto illustrated in color on the cover).
Los Angeles, Dalzell Hatfield Galleries, Creators and Masters of German Expressionist Art, August-September 1968 (illustrated in color on the back cover).
Minneapolis Institute of Art (on loan, 1984).
New York, Lafayette Parke Gallery, Color and Expression, Paintings & Watercolors, May-July 1987, no. 2 (illustrated in color).
Kunsthaus Zürich; Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky, February 2014-January 2015, p. 283, no. 176 (illustrated in color, p. 207, pl. 125).
Sale room notice
Please note the correct provenance for this lot is:
Private collection, Stuttgart (by 1914 and until 1916).
Dr. Karl Lilienfeld, Leipzig (by 1917).
Dalzell Hatfield Galleries, Los Angeles (acquired from the above, circa 1965).
Jack Rozmaryn, New York (acquired from the above, circa 1969 and until circa 1983).
Regis Corporation, Minneapolis (circa 1983).
Lafayette Parke Gallery, New York (1987-1989).
Anon. sale, Villa Grisebach, Berlin, 27 May 1994, lot 16.
Galerie Thomas, Munich.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, March 2003.

Brought to you by

Brooke Lampley
Brooke Lampley

Lot Essay

Comprising an interior with a still-life and female figure on the front, and a spacious landscape on the reverse, both of which Pechstein commenced during 1912-1913, this dual-sided painting offers as complete an overview of his scope as an artist that one might hope to acquire on a single canvas, moreover representing this important juncture in his career, the period on the eve of the First World War. Each picture complements the other, in terms of subject matter and by way of color as well; the golden tonality of the sun-drenched landscape—lingering green foliage amid autumnal reds and yellows—contrasts with the cooler, deep blue and green tones that fill the recesses in the interior, enlivened with the warmer hues of fruits, flowers, and the flesh tints of the the artist’s wife Lotte, all set against the stark white of the vase and compotier.
Proceeding chronologically, Pechstein began first the landscape verso at Nidden (then in East Prussia, today Nida, Lithuania), a remote fishing settlement on the Curonian Spit that separates a vast lagoon from the Baltic Sea, during September-October 1912. This was the artist’s third and final stay there before the beginning of the war, following which he returned several more times. The scores of canvases that Pechstein painted in this locale exult in that primal, elemental connection with nature the artist sought far from life in the cities. These paintings, especially the bather compositions among them (see Christie’s, New York, sale, 12 November 2015, lot 56C), fueled Pechstein’s pre-war ascendancy in the critical and public eye, marking him as the leading figure in the new German painting.
While standing in front of a Pechstein painting at the Berliner Sezession, probably in 1910, the dealer Paul Cassirer first applied the name Expressionisten to the young generation of painters who were pushing beyond 19th century Impressionism toward an unprecedented degree of liberated emotivity in their art, in a primitive, vital approach as equally attuned to subjective states of feeling as to the outward aspect of their chosen subjects. Taking Gauguin, Van Gogh and Munch as their precedents, these artists included Kirchner, Heckel and Schmidt-Rottluff, Pechstein’s colleagues since 1906 in the Dresden group Die Brücke, which subsequently relocated to Berlin.
Having ceased work on the verso landscape, Pechstein reversed the near-square canvas on its stretchers to utilize the unpainted side for a new still-life and figure composition, the present Stilleben mit Akt, Kachel und Früchten, which he completed in early 1913. He showed this painting, duly signed and dated, together with three others in the Deutscher Künstlerbund exhibition at the Kunsthalle Mannheim, which ran from May through September.
While the landscape displays the arabesque forms and flattened decorative space that characterize the late Fauvism of Matisse, the newer still-life clearly demonstrates that Pechstein had been studying the pictorial constructivism of Cézanne. Also apparent is the suggestion of early Cubism, then taking hold in Paris. Most significantly for the evolving expressionist ethos is Pechstein’s use of the primitivist approach to figure and form that German and Russian artists admired in the work of Gauguin, together with the latter’s taste for deeply resonant, saturated tonal harmonies. Pechstein had numbered Gauguin as one his favorite painters since 1907, when he first read the latter’s Tahitian narrative Noa Noa, in translated and illustrated excerpts published in the art journal Kunst und Künstler.
Reviewing the Berlin debut exhibition of Die Brücke at Wolfgang Gurlitt’s gallery in April 1912, the critic Curt Glaser singled out Pechstein as “without question the most mature and most eminent” in the group. Max Deri wrote in Pan, 30 June 1912, that he regarded Pechstein as the “strongest messenger” among them (quoted in B. Fulda and A. Soika, Max Pechstein, Boston, 2012, pp. 119 and 124). A large exhibition dedicated to Pechstein’s work alone, at the same venue in February 1913, attracted reviews not only in the art journals but from the major Berlin newspapers as well. It proved to be commercial success; Gurlitt gave the artist a contract, providing monthly advances in exchange for the exclusive right to his production.
During a working sojourn in Italy that summer and early fall, Pechstein was already considering plans for travel half-way around the world, to the South Seas island of Palau, a German colony, a journey Gurlitt subsequently promised to finance with an advance of 10,000 marks. Only weeks before the departure of the artist and Lotte from Genoa, bound for Manila and Palau, Paul Fechter’s book Der Expressionismus was published, the very first on this subject, in which he cited Pechstein as “the purest type and strongest representative of extensive Expressionism... He not only maintains a relation to the world, but intensifies it to the highest possible degree... He thus expresses his own life as this felt existence of things, at the same time revealing their profoundest essence” (in R.-C. Washton Long, ed., German Expressionism, Berkeley, 1995, p. 83).
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