The influences of Matisse, Gauguin and Cézanne can all be found in this remarkable dual-sided painting by Max Pechstein — offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 12 May
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Comprising an interior with a still-life and female figure on the front, and an autumnal landscape on the reverse, both of which Max Pechstein began during 1912-1913, this exceptional dual-sided painting offers a complete overview of the German painter's scope as an artist on a single canvas.
Each picture complements the other, in terms of subject matter and colour — the golden tonality of the sun-drenched landscape contrasts with the cooler, deep blue and green tones that fill the interior, enlivened with the warmer hues of fruits, flowers, and the flesh tints of the artist’s wife Lotte, all set against the stark white of the vase and compotier.
Hermann Max Pechstein (1881-1955), Stilleben mit Akt, Kachel und Früchten (recto); Kurische Waldlandschaft (verso), 1913 (recto); 1912 (verso). Oil on canvas 38 7/8 x 39 in. (98.5 x 99 cm.) Estimate: $900,000-1,200,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 12 May at Christie’s New York
Pechstein began with the landscape verso at Nidden (then in East Prussia, known today as Nida in Lithuania) during September and October of 1912. This was the artist’s third and final stay there before the beginning of the war, after which he returned several more times, producing scores of canvases that marked him out as the leading figure in German Expressionist painting.
Hermann Max Pechstein (1881-1955), Stilleben mit Akt, Kachel und Früchten (recto); Kurische Waldlandschaft (verso), 1913 (recto); 1912 (verso). Oil on canvas 38 7/8 x 39 in. (98.5 x 99 cm.) Estimate: $900,000-12,000,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 12 May at Christie’s New York
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Having ceased work on the verso landscape, Pechstein reversed the near-square canvas on its stretchers to utilise the unpainted side for a new still-life and figure composition — Stilleben mit Akt, Kachel und Früchten — which he completed in early 1913.
While the landscape displays the arabesque forms and flattened decorative space that characterise the late Fauvism of Henri Matisse, the newer still-life clearly demonstrates that Pechstein had been studying the pictorial Constructivism of Paul 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 Paul Gauguin, together with Gauguin’s taste for saturated tonal harmonies.
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