EMIL NOLDE (1867-1956)
EMIL NOLDE (1867-1956)
EMIL NOLDE (1867-1956)
1 More
EMIL NOLDE (1867-1956)
4 More
Property from the Estate of Nona Koerfer Giese
EMIL NOLDE (1867-1956)

Blühende Syringen

EMIL NOLDE (1867-1956)
Blühende Syringen
signed 'Emil Nolde' (lower right); signed again and titled 'Emil Nolde: "Blühende Syringen"' (on the stretcher)
oil on burlap
25 5/8 x 33 in. (65.1 x 83.7 cm.)
Painted in 1908
Karl Steinbart, Berlin (circa 1910-1915, then by descent).
Gustav Stein, Cologne (acquired from the above, 1940).
Roman Norbert Ketterer, Lugano (acquired from the above, 1969); sale, Sotheby's, London, 3 July 1973, lot 94.
Anon. sale, Christie's, London, 8 October 1998, lot 21.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
The Artist's Handlist, 1910, no. 147.
The Artist's Handlist, 1930.
M. Urban, Emil Nolde: Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, 1895-1914, London, 1987, vol. I, p. 226, no. 247 (illustrated).
Bonn, Landesmuseum, Expressionismus aus rheinischem Privatbesitz, 1965, no. 35 (illustrated, p. 58).

Brought to you by

Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco Head of Department, Impressionist & Modern Art, New York

Lot Essay

In May of 1903, Emil Nolde and his wife Ada moved to the pastoral idyl of Als Island, Denmark, where they rented a small cottage whose bucolic setting and extraordinary garden captivated the artist and offered a wellspring of inspiration. Nolde made his first garden painting in 1906 and described its creation in his memoirs: “It was on Als Island in the middle of summer. The color of the flowers drew me magnetically to them, and suddenly I was painting. The blossoming colors of the flowers and the purity of these colors; I loved them so very much” (quoted in A. Fluck, “‘Affectionately coupled with nature’ – Early Garden Pictures,” in Emil Nolde: Mein Garten voller Blumen, Cologne, 2009, p. 57). While flowers would remain a staple of Nolde’s œuvre, painted in 1908, Blühende Syringen presents a rare, early exploration of the artist’s most enduring motif.
At home in Als, Nolde passed many an hour working his plot of land and admiring his neighbor’s lush gardens. He was drawn to the flowers’ colors, through which he learned to engage with color’s expressive potential. This understanding was further enriched by the work of Vincent van Gogh which Nolde would have seen at the home of Gustav Schiefler, his friend and early champion. Following Van Gogh’s 1905 retrospective at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Schiefler purchased two of his paintings, Le canal la roubine du roi avec blanchisseuse and Jardin fleuri, which Nolde saw and later mentioned in a letter, writing, “The two paintings by Van Gogh that are so wonderful, their impression stays with me for so long and in this isolated corner of the world I think back to them” (quoted in Letter, 6 June 1906, reprinted in J. Lloyd, Vincent van Gogh and Expressionism, exh. cat., Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 2006, p. 56). While both works profoundly altered Nolde’s sense of spatial depth and color, it was Jardin fleuri that directly inspired his garden scenes and like Van Gogh, he too modelled his impasto paint into lush bouquets of brilliant color.
In a subsequent letter to Schiefler, sent in September 1908, Nolde rhapsodized, “They are such calm and beautiful hours when one sits or moves about between the fragrant blossoming flowers; I really wish to give my pictures something of this beauty and I myself have this feeling—the first beautiful happiness—in front of these pictures” (quoted in M. Reuther, “‘Greetings from our Young Garden’—Emil Nolde’s Gardens and his Flower Paintings,” in op. cit., Cologne, 2009, pp. 23-24). But even prior to life on Als, nature’s floral bounty had enchanted Nolde. Growing up on his parents farm he would trail behind his mother, enthralled by the “bourgeoning, the blossoming, the radiant” flowers to which she tended (quoted in op. cit., 2009, p. 20). The young child desired nothing more than a patch where he could plant an arbor, stoking a passion that continued into adulthood: As a drawing instructor at the Industrial Design Museum in St. Gallen, Nolde spent his free time exploring the nearby mountains, hiking the Matterhorn, Jungfrau, and Monte Rosa. “I walked barefoot over the grasslands in areas where no city dweller ever came,” he recounted, “I lay for a good part of the day in the grass or between the alpine roses and gentians on the Meglisalp. I dreamt and slept. And again I walked looking at flowers…” (ibid.)
Shortly after its completion, Blühende Syringen was acquired by Karl Steinbart, a German banker and art collector whose collection included works by Gustave Courbet, Edvard Munch, and Max Pechstein. It was later owned by the dealer and gallerist Roman Norbert Ketterer who worked tirelessly to promote German Expressionism following the Second World War. He subsequently served as an administrator of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s estate and helped to establish the Kirchner Museum Davos which opened in 1992.

More from 20th Century Evening Sale

View All
View All