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Gabriele Münter (1877-1962)
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Gabriele Münter (1877-1962)

Der Brief (Krank)

Details
Gabriele Münter (1877-1962)
Der Brief (Krank)
with the Nachlass stamp (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
37 3/8 x 55 1/8 in. (95 x 140 cm.)
Painted in 1917
Provenance
The artist's estate (no. P 3).
Kunsthandel Resch, Gauting.
Eugen Eisenmann, Böblingen, by whom acquired in the 1960s.
Acquired by the present owner in the 1980s.
Literature
Galerie Eisemann, Kalender 1970.
P. Lahnstein, Münter, Ettal, 1971, no. 34 (illustrated).
E. Pfeiffer-Belli, Gabriele Münter. Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, Berlin, 1979, p. 88 (illustrated).
K.-E. Vester, ed., Gabriele Münter, Hamburg, 1988 (illustrated pl. XLVIII).
G. Kleine, Gabriele Münter und Wassily Kandinksy, Biographie eines Paares, Frankfurt, 1990, p. 494.
S. Windecker, Gabriele Münter. Eine Künstlerin aus dem Kreis des "Blauen Reiters", Berlin, 1991, pp. 162-163, 225 (illustrated pl. 15).
S. Schröder, Gabriele Münter, Ein Leben zwischen Kandinsky und der Kunst, Freiburg, 2018, ch. 32.
Exhibited
(Possibly) Berlin, Der Sturm, 58. Ausstellung, Gösta Adrian-Nilsson, Paul Klee, Gabriele Münter. Gemälde und Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, December 1917, no. 88.
(Possibly) Copenhagen, Den Frie Udstillning, Gabriele Münter. Oljemalninger, Glastavler, Grafik, March 1918, no. 95.
(Possibly) Copenhagen, Københavns Ny Kunstsal, Maleriudstilling Gabriele Münter-Kandinsky, October 1919, no. 47.
Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Gabriele Münter, Gemälde, Zeichnungen..., 1977, no. 69, p. 105.
Hamburg, Hamburger Kunstverein, Gabriele Münter, April - May 1988, no. 62 (illustrated pl. XLVIII); this exhibition later travelled to Darmstadt, Hessisches Landesmuseum, June - August 1988; and Aichtal-Aich, Sammlung Eisenmann, September 1988.
Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Gabriele Münter, Retrospektive, July - November 1992, no. 157 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle, November 1992 - February 1993; and Stockholm, Liljevalchs konsthall, April - May 1993.
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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Ottavia Marchitelli
Ottavia Marchitelli

Lot Essay

When Gabriele Münter left Germany for Scandinavia, she also left the system of support that ranged from the companionship of Kandinsky to the milieu and landscapes of Munich and Murnau. She could however build on the championship of Herwarth Walden and his “Der Sturm” Gallery, which had previously arranged exhibitions in Scandinavia and which continued to send for work from the North, including Der Brief (Krank), which was shown in Berlin a the end of 1917. She renewed her acquaintance with Carl Palme, a fellow Phalanx School student, and sought out Swedish artists who exhibited with Walden – especially Isaac Grünewald and his wife, Sigrid Hjertén who studied in Paris under Matisse.
So much is evident during Münter’s Scandinavian period, her move to Stockholm in 1915 being prompted by the hope of reconciliation with Kandinsky in a neutral country. In early 1916, this was achieved briefly when separate exhibitions of their works were arranged at Carl Gummeson’s gallery in Stockholm. However, their separation became permanent when Kandinsky married Nina Andrejewska in 1917 in Moscow.
Der Brief (Krank) captures the moment when news reached Münter in a letter; a woman reclines in bed with eyes lowered, while over a pot of coffee her companion reads, or re-reads, the letter that confirms her worst fears. There is no doubting the personal sadness that inspired the painting, but Der Brief (Krank) is also a confident summation of Münter’s new style and technique that she developed whilst working in Stockholm. With its greater spaciousness and gentle stylization, the painting displays effects found in works by her fellow Swedish Expressionists. Her approach to colour underwent a transformation as she began to favour a subtle palette and softer gradations of tonal contrast as seen here in the yellow-green dressing gown which flows into the undulating blue bedspread, recalling the blue mountains of Murnau where Münter spent happier days and would eventually return.
It is incorrect to consider Münter as inactive, withdrawn and demoralized in the Scandinavian period. She continued to work despite her intense personal anger and despair caused by Kandinsky’s refusal to keep his promise, and despite her insurmountable lack of faith in her own art, she exhibited her work wherever possible. Her sketchbooks testify to her crisscrossing of the city in search of motifs. Aside from Murnau, no other urban space attracted so much of her attention. She achieved a degree of artistic activity the she had never before achieved and she did it now independently, without the support or preparation Kandinsky had earlier provided. In large figural works, such as Der Brief (Krank), and her uplifting portraits Woman in Stockholm and Sinnende (both 1917), Münter asserted a seriousness of purpose unlike in her previous work, inserting emotion and allegorical content, allowing the surrounding objects and background to reflect the internal state of the sitter. Kandinsky’s adherence to pure abstraction from the time of their separation onwards contrasts strongly with the representational commitments of her Scandinavian pictures and in this sense the paintings can be seen as a valediction to Kandinsky. Münter’s series of women in interiors, touching on the themes of isolation, illness or thoughtful reflection, are among the most successfully mature and powerful of her œuvre.

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