Emil Nolde (1867-1956)
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Emil Nolde (1867-1956)

Sonnenblumen mit Fuchsschwanz

Emil Nolde (1867-1956)
Sonnenblumen mit Fuchsschwanz
signed 'Emil Nolde.' (lower right); signed and inscribed 'Emil Nolde: Sonnenblumen mit Fuchsschwanz' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
26 1/2 x 34 7/8 in. (67.5 x 88.6 cm.)
Painted in 1937
Aage Vilstrup, Copenhagen.
Vilda Vilstrup, Copenhagen, by 1953.
Siegfried Adler, Montagnola, Switzerland, by 1970.
Private collection, Cologne, by 1971.
Acquired by the parents of the present owner in the mid-1990s.
The artist's handlist, 1930-1951, as '1937 Sonnenblumen mit Fuchsschwanz'.
M. Urban, Emil Nolde, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil-Paintings, vol. II, 1915-1951, London, 1990, no. 1174 (illustrated p. 463).
Oslo, Kunstforening, May 1956, no. 13 (titled 'Blomster').
Odense, Fyns Stiftsmuseum, Emil Nolde : malerier, akvareller, grafik: udstilling arrangeret i anledning af den internationale museumsuge, October 1956, no. 22.
Copenhagen, Slot Charlottenborg, Emil Nolde; Koloristerne, April - May 1958, no. 63.
Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Emil Nolde 1867-1956: Målningar, grafik, January - February 1967, no. 64.
Nykobing, Annenberg-Samlingerne, Emil Nolde 1867-1956, July - August 1967, no. 20.
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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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Antoine Lebouteiller
Antoine Lebouteiller

Lot Essay

Nolde's flower paintings often use their subject matter as a vehicle through which to express a mood or emotion. The inspiration for such 'humanizing' of nature came in Nolde's case from the example set by Vincent van Gogh. Nolde maintained an interest in Van Gogh's work throughout his journey as a painter, and his own preoccupation with sunflowers undoubtedly reflects the influence of the Dutch artist. As they had been for Van Gogh, for Nolde, a large part of the beauty of flowers and in particular the sunflower, was the simple and expressive elegance of their life cycle, 'shooting up, blooming, radiating, glowing, gladdening, drooping, wilting, and ultimately thrown away and dying.'

Sonnenblumen mit Fuchsschwanz was painted in 1937, and is one of a large number of paintings of sunflowers that Nolde painted in the late 1930s and early 1940s - a period of great trauma for the artist, when, under the oppression of the Nazi regime, he had been declared a degenerate artist and was later banned from painting. For Nolde, the painting of flowers was an effective retreat from the world of politics and everyday reality into a near abstract world of colour and joy. The sunflower too, was for him a particular symbol of such happiness and had been ever since he had first planted them in his Seebüll garden in 1928, on which occasion he had written to his friend Hans Fehr euphorically that 'the sunflowers are so tall that I stand beneath them with my head thrown back, gratefully admiring their beauty...barely imaginable colours are glowing, and the scent of the mignonettes carries as far as the house' (Emil Nolde, letter to Hans Fehr, 20 September 1928). Full of radiant colour and vital energy, conveyed through the heavy impasto of Nolde's brushwork, Sonnenblumen mit Fuchsschwanz is a metaphor for the fleeting temporal nature of all phenomena, a 'memento mori' of powerful lucidity.

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