Emil Nolde (1867-1956)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE GERMAN COLLECTION
Emil Nolde (1867-1956)

Friesenhäuser III

Emil Nolde (1867-1956)
Friesenhäuser III
signed 'Emil Nolde.' (lower right); signed, titled and numbered 'Emil Nolde. „Friesenhäuser" III.' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 32 7/8 in. (65 x 83.3 cm.)
Painted in 1910
Böttcher, Stettin, before 1930.
Galerie Wilhelm Großhennig, Dusseldorf.
Anonymous sale, Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett, 21-22 November 1958, lot 767.
Acquired by the family of the present owners by 1974, and thence by descent.
The artist's handlist, vol. II, March 1910, no. 261.
The artist's handlist, vol. III, December 1910, no. 262.
The artist's handlist, 1930 (annotated '1910 Friesenhäuser III').
M. Urban, Emil Nolde, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, vol. I, 1895-1914, London, 1987, no. 341, p. 296 (illustrated).
Krefeld, Kunstverein, Kunst aus Krefelder Sammlungen, 1974, no. 155.
Munich, Galerie Thomas, Emil Nolde: Aquarelle, Bilder, Graphiken, March - May 1981, no. 73.
Dusseldorf, Galerie Wittrock, Emil Nolde, 1867-1956: Gemälde, Aquarelle, Graphik, September 1985, no. 18, p. 83 (illustrated p. 25).
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.

Lot Essay

‘The source of my artistry lies deeply rooted in the soil of my closest homeland.’
(Emil Nolde)

Painted in the summer of 1910, Friesenhäuser III is an intensely colourful landscape typical of the bold expressionist style that characterised Emil Nolde’s art during the first decade of the Twentieth Century. Depicting a cluster of traditional houses in Ruttebüll, a small fishing village on the Frisian coast which the artist visited that summer, it is one of just four paintings created by Nolde that focus on the classic dwellings that dotted the wild, untouched landscape of the artist’s homeland. Drenched in the fiery colours of sunset, the painting speaks powerfully of the union of man, landscape and the elements through its fusion of heightened colour, subject matter and the shimmering energy of its brushwork. Nearly abstract in parts, it is a romantic vista somewhat reminiscent of the kind of spiritual expression of landscape sought by Vincent Van Gogh in his paintings of peasants working the land. Set deep and low against the flat landscape, these houses sit in a loosely aligned row, extending along the banks of a stream that cuts through the marshy landscape. Capturing the relationship between both nature and architecture, the artist roots the houses in the verdant landscape surrounding it, their forms interweaving and conjoining with one another through his loose, expressionist brushwork. The painting is dominated by a series of dramatic sweeps and smears of vibrant paint swiftly and impulsively laid onto the surface of the canvas in radiant, thick and complementary colour, which Nolde uses to build a universally active surface, appearing to pulsate with its own energy and vigour.

Throughout his life, Nolde maintained a strong spiritual connection with the landscape of his homeland in Northern Schleswig, on the borderlands between Germany and Denmark. Inspired by what he saw as the unspoilt, primeval character of this sparsely populated environment, Nolde painted hundreds of works focusing on the wild, atmospheric topography of this untamed stretch of land between the North Sea and the Baltic, much of which was at the mercy of the natural dynamics of the tides. It was in 1902 that the artist, born Emil Hansen, first identified himself completely with this area, changing his surname to the town of his birthplace, Nolde. This act was not merely done to avoid confusion with other Hansens living nearby, but also, according to Nolde, ‘in pursuit of the Romantic impulse’ (E. Nolde, Welt und Heimat (1913-1918), Cologne, 1990, p. 247). For the artist, this atmospheric terrain offered him a wealth of visual stimuli, from its marshes and waterways that flooded at high tide, to its expansive heathlands and deep, waterlogged bogs. He would often walk for miles through the windswept countryside collecting impressions, traversing this landscape ‘full of experiences and history’ to discover new vistas and motifs (Nolde, quoted in A. King, Emil Nolde: Artist of the Elements, London, 2013, p. 16). Although the area was increasingly subject to change and modernisation over the course of his lifetime, with the arrival of the railways, automobiles and developments in communications gradually altering the landscape, Nolde found enough of its essential character remained intact to provide him with constant inspiration.

Although Nolde rarely painted an imaginary landscape, preferring to draw directly from his experiences of these Danish borderlands, his landscape paintings, rooted in ‘the primal depths’ of his artistic identity, are far more than mere literal depictions of his immediate surroundings. In the same way that he identified himself with the landscape of his North Schleswig homeland, Nolde also sought through his art to commune with and give expression to the primal and eternal, elemental forces at work within nature. To this end, Nolde chose to work directly from the natural environment, often venturing out into the fields in all weathers in order to experience at first hand the natural forces of his immediate surroundings, to feel them, and thereby be able to intuitively transmit their energy and power onto canvas. ‘In the city,’ Nolde wrote, ‘one pays little attention to the occurrences of nature. Its drama is not experienced. It is different in the flat countryside’ (Nolde quoted in J. Garbecht, ‘Powerful Atmospheric Landscapes’, in exh. cat., Emil Nolde: Mein Garten voller Blumen, Seebüll 2009, p. 73). Nolde often bestowed his landscapes with an undisguised symbolic significance, using the feverish energy of radiant burning sunset skies, shimmering seas and windswept marshes as clear metaphors for the power of nature and the eternal confrontation between man in his natural state and the elements.

One of the most striking aspects of Friesenhäuser III is Nolde’s bold use of energetic, vibrant colour to convey an impression of these elemental forces of nature, delineating the scene in an array of vivid reds, greens and blues. Nolde had begun experimenting with stronger tones in his compositions around 1905, perhaps inspired by the paintings of Paul Gauguin, which he has seen at an exhibition of the artist’s work at the Grand-Ducal Palace in Weimar in July of that year. Writing to his wife about this experience, Nolde stated that ‘the sumptuous colours’ of Gauguin’s pictures had ‘ravished’ him, claiming that they were the most splendid colours he had ever seen (Nolde, quoted in A. King, op. cit., p. 30). Nolde was, at this stage of his career, already highly capable of rendering mood and atmosphere through the interplay of colour and tonality in his compositions. However, this encounter with Gauguin brought a new intensity to his palette, a development which drew the attention of the Die Brücke artists, who invited him to join their organisation in 1906. As Nolde explained: ‘From very early on I was very interested in colours and their properties, from delicate to powerful and especially the cold and warm ones too. I loved purity and avoided all mixtures of cold and warm that lead to dirt and the killing of the brilliant forces’ (Nolde, quoted in J. Garbrecht, ‘My Wonderland from Sea to Sea’, in exh. cat., Emil Nolde: Mein Wunderland von Meer zu Meer, Seebüll, 2008, p. 42). In the present work, this attention to the relationship of his colours, and the emotive power of their combinations creates a powerfully rich atmosphere, from the sumptuous layering of different tones in the thickly impastoed grass, to the startling contrasts between the bright, fiery red of the buildings, and the cobalt blue of the shadows that dance across their walls. Through their interactions, these colours create an almost spiritual vision of the landscape, rooted in the artist’s own personal experiences of his homeland.

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