MAX PECHSTEIN (1881-1955)
MAX PECHSTEIN (1881-1955)
MAX PECHSTEIN (1881-1955)
MAX PECHSTEIN (1881-1955)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF DR JEROME AND MRS ELIZABETH LEVY
MAX PECHSTEIN (1881-1955)


MAX PECHSTEIN (1881-1955)
signed with initials and dated 'HMP 1929' (lower right); signed and inscribed 'HMPechstein Berlin W. 62. Kurfüstenstr. 126 -Morgensonne-' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
28 1/4 x 31 5/8 in. (71.8 x 80.4 cm.)
Painted in 1929
Kunstzaal Leendert van Lier, Blaricum & Utrecht.
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, Berlin, 27 November 1992, lot 45.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owners.
F. Nemitz, 'Berlin als Kunstadt', in Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, vol. 65, October 1929 - March 1930, p. 230 (illustrated).
M.M. Moeller (ed.), Max Pechstein, Sein malerisches Werk, exh. cat, Brücke-Museum, Berlin, 1996, no. 145, pp. 28 & 323 (illustrated p. 28 & fig. 145).
A. Czarnik, Pomorskie plenery Maxa Pechsteina, Slupsk, 2003, p. 158 (illustrated p. 160).
A. Soika, Max Pechstein: Das Werkverzeichnis der Ölgemälde, vol. II, 1919-1954, Munich, 2011, no. 1929/5, p. 403 (illustrated).
Berlin, 58. Ausstellung der Berliner Secession, Herbst-Ausstellung Malerei, October 1929, no. 119, p. 13.
Berlin, Berliner Secession, Katalog der 67. Ausstellung, Max Pechstein, December 1931 - January 1932, no. 8.
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. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Imogen Kerr
Imogen Kerr Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Painted in the summer of 1929 looking out over Lake Garder near the small, Baltic fishing village of Rowe, Morgensonne (Morning Sun) is an outstanding painting from the height of Max Pechstein’s maturity. Depicting the full radiance of an early morning sunrise over the lake with the skiffs of the local fishermen silhouetted against the horizon, this heavily worked oil is a vibrant and intense rendering of the magical allure that this idyllic unspoilt region in North Pomerania held for the artist and a prime example of his mature, Expressionist style.

The years between 1920 and 1933 were ones in which Pechstein came to be recognised in the art circles of Berlin as the leading Expressionist painter of his generation and he was duly elected to the Prussian Academy, the only member of the former Brücke group of painters to be recognised in this way. Morgensonne is one of the finest of Pechstein’s paintings of this triumphant period. It was chosen by the artist to represent him at both the 1929 and 1932 Berlin Secession exhibitions (upon whose board he served at this time) and it has also since been singled out by Magdalena M. Moeller, alongside such other pictures as Sonnenuntergang (Strombrücke in Leba) of 1921 (Nationalgalerie, Berlin) and Nordweststurm of 1922 as a leading landscape by the artist from these years of critical recognition (M. M. Moeller, ed., Max Pechstein, Sein malerisches Werk, exh. cat., Brücke-Museum, Berlin, 1996, pp. 60-61).

With what Moeller has called its ‘unique and intense atmosphere’ and the rich colours of its spectacular South-Sea-like sky, Morgensonne can in many ways be considered a paean to the life that Pechstein so enjoyed during his stays in the villages of Rowe and Leba on the Baltic coast in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The artist had first travelled to the region in 1921 and immediately became enamoured with, not just the simple way of life and the opportunities it afforded him to go fishing, but also with Marta Möller, the daughter of the innkeeper with whom he stayed. Within a year Marta was to become Pechstein’s second wife and the artist’s connection with the area was made permanent. Throughout the ensuing years, Leba and later the small, nearby hamlet of Rowe, became for Pechstein what the village of Nidden had been for him during his years with Die Brücke – a Baltic arcadia.

In the late 1920s Pechstein and his new wife and son would enjoy several summers with the artist George Grosz and his family. In 1927, after finding that the village of Leba was becoming a tourist attraction, Pechstein wrote to Grosz ecstatically about his discovery of the small hamlet of Rowe about twelve miles away and how this more remote village had now provided him with an archaic, unspoilt haven from which to escape the trials of his modern life in Berlin. Rowe, he wrote, consisted solely of ‘old houses from 130 years ago with thatched roofs, the rooms so minute that I can reach the ceiling with my hand… In terms of scenery [it is] outstanding, the people very primitive, no streets, no electrical light, therefore a lot of quietness for reflection and work, three quarters of an hour from here a … beach and beech forest, where surely the old Teutons still slaughtered their Whitsuntide sacrifices’ (M. Pechstein, Letter to George Grosz from Rowe, 12 June 1927; quoted in B. Fulda and A. Soika, Max Pechstein; The Rise and Fall of Expressionism, Berlin, 2012, p. 275).

As the political climate of Germany progressively darkened during the last years of the 1920s and the early 1930s, the idyll of Rowe increasingly became both a retreat and a place of longing for Pechstein. It was, he wrote one friend, ‘an oasis [with] nothing to be heard nor read of the disgusting political company which is currently spreading throughout Germany and corrupting youth’ (M. Pechstein, Letter to Alexander Gerbig, 27 November 1930; quoted in ibid., p. 284). Writing to Grosz again in 1932, while his friend was in the United States, Pechstein wrote that, though also opposed to the Nazis, he felt himself unable to leave the country because he had come to ‘love’ Rowe so much. It was, in particular, the simple pleasures of the life of the fishermen, with whom he had grown increasingly close, that most inspired him, Pechstein noted. ‘When I row up the river in a small boat in the morning, with the mist surging, and the rising sun shining through it [and] eventually dissolving it, then the whole thing goes very much to my heart… I could not easily do without all this’ (M. Pechstein Letter to George Grosz, 14 August 1932; quoted ibid., p. 289). Painted three years before he wrote this letter, Morgensonne is essentially the pictorial expression of its same sentiments.

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