1867-1956 | GermanMarschlandschaft (mit drei Häusern)
Marshland (With Three Houses)
Signed “Nolde” (lower right)
Watercolor on Japan paper
A work of engaging richness and emotion, Marschlandschaft (mit drei Häusern)
invites the viewer directly into the heart of the intuitive, poetic world of Emil Nolde. An essential figure in the German avant-garde, Nolde’s highly modern oeuvre stands as an important precursor to the Abstract Expressionists of the mid-20th century. With its vivid colors and emotional intensity, the present work is exemplary of his output, containing all of the best characteristics of his mature style.
Brilliant, amorphous fields of color suggest the vast, marshy landscape of Nolde’s native Schleswig-Holstein region near the German-Danish border. The artist’s application of paint is powerful and dramatic, conveying with a few brushstrokes the impression of passing storm clouds, allowing light and sky to peek through and illuminate the colors of his landscape. A sense of fluidity and immediacy were of great importance to Nolde. He once said, “I try to avoid all thinking. A vague concept of color and luminosity suffices, and the picture evolves during the act of painting.” The flow and spontaneity of watercolor lent themselves well to Nolde’s creative approach, and he achieved a vibrancy in the medium that is unsurpassed.
Nolde is considered one of the most important exponents of German Expressionism and was one of the most prominent representatives of the avant-garde in Germany. His participation in the seminal group Die Brücke (The Bridge) links him to one of the earliest artists' associations which had a crucial impact on the development of modern art. His interplay of color and form set him apart from his contemporaries, and his work is recognized as a monumental step toward modernism.
However, Nolde’s work was derided in his day by the Nazi regime in Germany, and he was forbidden from painting. Deemed too “decadent,” 33 of his works were displayed in the infamous Entartete Kunst
, Degenerate Art Exhibition in Munich in 1937, labeling the artist's works as a “threat” to Germany. The Nazi Party destroyed hundreds of Nolde's works and confiscated over one thousand more — the greatest number of any artist — highlighting the rarity of the present composition.
Throughout his career, Nolde received numerous awards, including the Print Prize of the XXVL Venice Biennale and the Order “Pour le mérite,” the highest achievement for German arts and sciences. Nolde's auction history has also been triumphant. In 2021, a similar watercolor by Nolde sold at Sotheby's London for over $1,000,000, setting a record for the artist. Today, Nolde's works are held in important museum collections internationally, including in the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza
Paper: 13 1/2" high x 18 1/2" wide
Frame: 25 5/8" high x 30" wide
Private collection, Germany, a gift from the artist
Thence by descent
Sale, Christie's, London, 1 December 1987, lot 355.
Anonymous sale, Hauswedell & Nolte, Hamburg, 12 June 1999, lot 2052.
Galerie Neher, Essen.
Private collection, Germany.
M.S. Rau, New Orleans.
Balingen, Stadthalle, Emil Nolde, Weltsicht, Farbe Phantasie
, 2008, p. 132 (illustrated).