Georg Schrimpf - Am Morgen
Oil on canvas 82 x 48 cm Framed. Signed and dated 'G. Schrimpf 31.' lower left - Minor retouchings far and few bewteen and slight shrinkage cracks.
Schrimpf's rear view of a female figure has a surprisingly suggestive immediacy about it. By moving the figure towards the edge of this large painting, the artist gives her a perfect position within the room, so that she defines the centre of the picture both horizontally and vertically. Volumes are given a balanced distribution within the painting, and neither the figure nor the environment are described in detail, thus evoking an impression of perfect harmony. As so often in Schrimpf's figural subjects, the youthful, girlish figure is characterised by monochrome areas that lighten towards the edges in a nimbus-like manner, so that the body has a soft, tactile attractiveness, accentuated by the gently subdued morning light. As viewers, we feel tempted to identify with her and to take her place as she opens the shutters. The background landscape on the left, which seems like a picture within the picture, forms some kind of counterpart: we can see details of a rather minute little village with a church, tree-lined avenues and a range of hills, and we are struck by the contrast between their small size and the monumental figure of the girl in the foreground. This is the point where Schrimpf reverses our familiar viewing patterns by applying a sharp focus to items at a long distance while anything close by is shown to be diffuse.
Proximity and distance are given the greatest possible contrast here, visualising a certain yearning for the 'simple country life', both on the part of the figure and the painter. Oblivious of her surroundings, quietly focused and contented, the girl in this interior reminds us of Dutch works of the Golden Age, such as paintings of young women by Jan Vermeer or indeed the German Romantics such as Philipp Otto Runge. Others have identified Nazarene influences on Schrimpf during the 1930s, for instance from Friedrich Overbeck. (cf. Curt Hohoff, Zum Tode von Georg Schrimpf, in: Die Kunst für Alle, July 1938, reprinted in: Wolfgang Storch, Georg Schrimpf and Maria Uhden - Leben und Werk, Berlin 1985, pp. 193 f.).
The motif of a 'woman at the window' can be found throughout Georg Schrimpf's oeuvre in a wide variety of different forms and is almost a topos of its own from the early 1920s onwards. In 1925 Franz Roh wrote an article in the art magazine 'Kunstblatt' about a painting which was in many ways similar to this one. It was called 'Girl at the Window / In the Morning' and displayed at Kunstmuseum Basel (see comparative illus.). He said:
“What friendliness there can be even in the most barren, unadorned state of existence! At the back we can see the new day rising, while the early morning is shimmering preciously on the scrubbed table [...]. Colour is condensed into gentle energy in the red and blue of this girl's dress, in this creature [...]. What a big and simple composition this is. A human skirt, for instance, can hardly be designed more simply. [...] Despite its reduction to the most simple shapes, the reality of the space and the objects is consistently strict. The perfect modelling of the table, with a spatial presence and a strict reality focus that are far more pronounced than the human body, make the person appear somewhat flattened and reduced, with a touch of unreality that ultimately proclaims her powerlessness against the sharp edges of her environment (which is characteristic of Schrimpf's position). [...].” (quoted from Curt Hohoff, 1985, op.cit., p. 148).
Acquired directly from the artist by the previous ownwer (1932), since then family estate, private collection, Southern Germany
Wernher Witthaus, Romantisch und Deutsch. So malt Georg Schrimpf, in: Sonntag-Morgen, 18 Sept. 1932, p. 14 with illus.