Stillleben mit Relief
Oil on canvas 102 x 82 cm Framed. Signed 'H. Purrmann' lower left. - In fine condition with fresh colours. In few places with tiny losses of colour; in parts with marginal frame-related surface rubbing.
Purrmann's intense occupation with still lifes of flowers and fruits during the time he spent in Florence was also further pursued in Montagnola, where he moved in 1944. With the exception of multiple journeys to Italy and Greece, he remained in Switzerland until his death in 1966.
The elements of this still life - the striking, blue-and-yellow faience vase decorated with ears of wheat, the stone relief fragment, the striped wallpaper and the mirror - are present in numerous still lifes created by Purrmann from the 1930s to the 1950s, such as “Stillleben mit Rosen” (Still Life with Roses; 1942; Lenz/Billeter 1942/19), the “Kamelien in Fayencevase” (Camelias in Faience Vase; 1949; Lenz/Billeter 1949/21) or the “Stillleben mit Relief vor Spiegel” (Still Life with Relief in Front of a Mirror; 1957; Lenz/Billeter 1957/38). However, in scarcely any of these comparable still lifes did the artist achieve a composition as balanced and refined as that of the present work. The arrangement exudes a distinct lightness and is nonetheless a coherent whole. In the centre of the painting, the network of the lines of its main elements weave themselves into a dense ornamentation, which is framed in a generous and calming manner by the reddish blue fields of the wallpaper and tabletop.
Reflections are the defining theme that provides this still life with its particular vibrancy: the wall mirror pushed slightly to the right from the middle axis of the painting duplicates the blossoming twigs in its reflection and presents the complex forms of their leaves to particular advantage in front of the - also reflected - black and yellow surface of a wall. The mirror thus provides the twigs, which are actually quite slender, with a loose and abundant fullness. Viewers are scarcely able to distinguish anymore between what is the plant and what is only its mirror image. Vase and relief are provided with a special lightness and accent through the second reflection on the tabletop, where their reflected images appear in bluish, trapezoidal forms.
In 1954 Purrmann undertook a repetition of this composition in the series “Anemonenstillleben mit antikem Relief” (Anemone Still Life with Antique Relief; Lenz/Billeter 1954/08-1954/12); however, this displays a more conventional and dense pictorial concept.
Lenz/Billeter 1949/18 (erroneously with the dimensions "82 x 79 cm")
The H.M. collection; Private collection, Switzerland