Nolde near Tondern 1867 - 1956 Seebüll
Roter Mohn (Mohnblumen, Iris und Sonnenhut)
Watercolour on Japan paper. 47 x 34.5 cm. Framed under glass. Signed 'Nolde' in ink lower right. - The flowers partially painted verso, intensifying the colours. Isolated tiny foxmarks; pin holes in upper corners.
Private possession, Berlin; Private collection, Rhineland
Triumph der Farbe, DAS KUNSTWERK, Sonderausgabe, Kunstwerkschriften, vol. 32, Baden-Baden 1952, full-page colour illus. in the frontispiece
“First I painted a few pictures of flowers, with large poppies glowing in red, in order to get used to colour.” (Emil Nolde, cited in: Martin Urban, Emil Nolde - Blumen und Tiere: Aquarelle und Zeichnungen, Cologne 1980, p. 35). This brief, but highly significant quote from the period directly after the end of the war in 1945 is able to indicate the exceptional role of colour in the art of Emil Nolde. In the early summer of 1945, after years of being ostracised and prohibited from painting, the artist must have experienced the return to colour - the invigorating primary source and existential substrate of his art - all the more intensely.
His poppies painted in luminous colours impressively document Nolde's unique handling of the watercolour medium. By applying the colours both to the front and reverse side of the sheet, he was able to turn the support of his images into a kind of soundboard letting the individual colour tones literally shine through.
From the period he spent in Utenwarf around 1916-18 until his death, Nolde created countless watercolours of flowers. In these paintings his chromatic fantasies found the greatest possible freedom; here he could realise his ideas about colour with an extremely high degree of abstraction without having to give up the link to nature, because this was always meant to be the foundation of his work. Even if the subject of these images was to remain the same over the years, they are nevertheless each entirely different in terms of expression. The poppies, the irises, the coneflowers and the other flowers all embody not so much botanical studies as individual natures, characters and moods.