Emil Nolde - Dschunken
Watercolour on Japan paper 28.5 x 32.7 cm Framed under glass. Signed 'Nolde' in pencil lower right. - The margins narrowly covered in Japan paper verso.
“China. You lie over there and your sea really is yellow. The closer we got to China, the yellower the water became. The mighty Huang Ho carries its silty water into the sea. […] We slowly moved towards the big wide river, until we could go no further, we scraped on the muddy ground. We moored the boat and disembarked. Sitting between Chinese men and women, we went to Peking with the train.” (Emil Nolde, Welt und Heimat: Die Südseereise, Cologne 1965, p. 40). Nolde was a member of a medical-demographic expedition to German New Guinea, travelling with them as an illustrator. After the journey by land through China, Nolde and his wife reached Hankou, and Nolde was delighted. “On the water the life and bustle were similar and, nonetheless, also completely different. The junks are home to one hundred thousand people, and masses of these junks lie on both sides of the river. […] and we travelled, we squeezed through or lay there stuck fast between the junks […]. I had paused from drawing for a few weeks. Here that was impossible. With brush and paint, I worked like a man possessed; [...] everything around me was a picture, the richest uproarious life, reflections, boats […] and the haze between it. [...] We travelled down the Yangtze Kiang with a little steamer, a marvellous journey - countless junks meeting us or sailing down river. Junks with high, white or coloured, magnificent sails. All this was my pleasure, my element, this life and activity on the water, with the long reflections of the sails, whether of individual boats or charming groups.” (Idem., op. cit., pp. 46 f.).
Nolde captures the fleeting phenomena of the Chinese waters on paper in a calligraphic, sweeping simplicity. He created numerous watercolours and ink-brush drawings of junks. The present work is distinguished by its well-proportioned sounding of the maritime space, its concisely reductive tonality and its unusually good state of preservation.
With a photo-certificate from Manfred Reuther, Klockries, dated 23 July 2018. The watercolour is listed in the archive under "Nolde A - 92/2018".
Private collection, Baden-Wuerttemberg