Emil Nolde

Date/place of birth

7 August 1867 Nolde near Tondern

Day/place of death

13 April 1956 in Seebüll

Emil Nolde - Marschhof
Emil Nolde - Marschhof

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Emil Nolde biography

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Emil Nolde - Works

With his expressive flower watercolours and atmospheric landscape pictures, Emil Nolde is one of the key representatives of Expressionism, famous for his heightened colouring which give his works a unique character.

Childhood in modest circumstances, apprenticeship as a carver and draughtsman

Emil Nolde was born Emil Hansen on 7 August 1867 in Nolde, then part of today’s Danish parish of Burkal. He was the youngest of three brothers, followed later by a younger sister. His childhood on his parent’s rural property was hard-working and characterised by deprivation, with hardly any time for artistic impulses. Despite this, Emil Nolde decided in 1884 to take an apprenticeship as draughtsman and carver at the decorative arts school in Flensburg where he, amongst other things, took part in the restoration of the famous Brüggeman Altar in Schleswig Cathedral. He went on to work for various furniture manufacturers in a number of German cities including Karlsruhe, Munich and Berlin. During a teaching position in St. Gallen he met the Swiss legal historian Hans Fehr which led to a long friendship. Emil Nolde first achieved fame with his small format, coloured drawings of the Swiss mountains.

Member of the “Brücke”, success with flower watercolours in Seebüll

Rejected by the Munich Academy, he took private painting lessons from Adolf Hölzel before leaving for Paris with the painter Emmi Walther to attend the Académie Julian. From 1902 Emil named himself after his hometown of Nolde, and in the same year married his first wife, the Danish actress Ada Vilstrup. From 1906 to 1907 he was a member of the artist group “Brücke” and met Edvard Munch in Berlin. Even though his involvement with “Brücke” was only short, it proved to be momentous. He introduced etchings to the group and established contact with the important Hamburg patron Gustav Schiefler. He celebrated a period of great success in his adopted home of Seebüll where he discovered the ideal conditions to create many of his famous flower watercolours. Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, Nolde had the chance to accompany an expedition to Neu Guinea and gathered many inspirational impressions on his travels to China, Japan, Ceylon, Birma and Egypt.

A ban on painting despite support from the NS regime

Emil Nolde believed in the superiority of German art and expressly resisted a “foreign infiltration” by French and other influences; consequently, he welcomed the National Socialist takeover with his signature under the infamous call of the creative artists for the support of Adolf Hitler and lived out his anti-Semitic convictions for example in the fight against the Jewish art dealer Paul Cassirer and painting associates such as Max Liebermann. Hitler however did not thank him well for his loyalty: as a representative of the unloved modern art, Nolde was banned from painting in 1941, and from then on had to make a living with small-format watercolours, as in his meagre early years – the artist called these works his “unpainted pictures”. After the war, Emil Nolde received prizes and honours and painted many oil paintings and watercolours. Following the death of his first wife he married a second time, Jolanthe Erdmann, the daughter of the pianist Eduard Erdmann. In 1955 he took part in the first documenta in Kassel.

Emil Nolde died on 13 April 1956 in Seebüll.

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

Emil Nolde Prices

Emil NoldeMarschhof€1.368.500
Emil NoldeEvening Marsh Landscape (Seebüll)€384.000
Emil NoldeAbendlandschaft mit Mühle€384.000
Emil NoldeTosendes Meer€275.000
Emil NoldeMarschlandschaft mit roten Wolken, Landschaft um Utenwarf€252.000
Emil NoldeMarschlandschaft€226.100

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