Landschaft bei Beilstein
Oil on canvas 65.5 x 81.2 cm Framed. Signed 'Purmann' in green lower right. Designated "1915 - Beilstein - Weg zum Dorf 65 x 81 cm H.P. Archiv 444" very probably by Heidi Vollmoeller verso on stretcher with annotations for a planned exhibition. - Very fine condition, vibrant colours. Some minor craqueleur.
"Le premier mérite d'un tableau est d'être une fête pour l'oeil.' This notation of Eugène Delacroix in his journal may characterize better than anything else the art of Hans Purrmann.
It is well known that in November of 1905 Hans Purrmann moved to Paris, where he was able to set up a studio in the Rue Campagne Première in Montparnasse, directly above the studio of Mathilde Vollmoeller. The two artists were to marry in Germany in 1912, where their daughter Christine was born in the autumn of that year. Following Purrmann's stays in Paris, Southern France (in Cassis and in Collioure, with Henri Matisse) and on Corsica, some initial early paintings of artistic significance were now also created in Beilstein. Purrmann's father-in-law, the textile manufacturer Robert Vollmoeller (1849-1911), had purchased the Langhans Castle; following his death, Purrmann's sister-in-law managed the estate and vineyard, where in 1914 - still prior to the outbreak of the First World War - the Purrmann family also found a secure place to live once again.
Coming from the school of Matisse, the painter now discovered the local surroundings' hilly landscape defined by its vineyards, the view of the castle - which is a landmark of Beilstein - and motifs from the actual hill on which the castle was built. Topographically speaking, the present painting “Landschaft bei Beilstein” depicts the tree-lined path along the cliff, with a view from above on to the low roofs of the town and the chapel standing somewhat further down the slope: with its light-coloured stonework and the high church tower, it is a characteristic feature of Beilstein.
“Landschaft bei Beilstein” is, so to speak, “fauvistically” developed entirely out of colour and is constructed out of nuanced layers of coloured strokes and dense areas that take on an entirely abstract quality when seen up close. The evoked atmosphere of the light, a luminosity inherent to the painting, is also brought to life through the colour contrasts and the mottled light and dark values, which generate the composition and the overall impression. Yellow, orange-red, various green tones, turquoise and violet define this impression. Not only the dark-green cast shadow in the foreground, but particularly the middle ground is remarkable: here fields of colour à la Cézanne are rhythmically positioned alongside and on top of one another and concluded with a violet horizontal stripe. The colour tones in the entire composition are attuned, distributed and at times accented by white in such a way that a clear effect of depth nonetheless arises at a distance. The featheriness of bare tall trees is a stylistic device whose appearance here is early for Purrmann's work and is related to the subject matter; with its expansive lineation, it articulates the picture plane. It was also to remain a characteristic feature in the later landscapes of his oeuvre.
A view directly comparable to our painting and of almost the same dimensions can be found in the State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg (Lenz/Billeter 1915/06).
Rudolf Vollmoeller; Adele Vollmoeller, Zurich (handwritten label verso); since then in family possession
Berlin (Ost) 1982 (Akademie der Künste der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik), Hans Purrmann. Malerei, Graphik, Zeichnungen, Plastik, cat. no. 21 with colour illus. p. 58 ("Burgweg zum Dorf Beilstein")