Emil Nolde - Der Jäger
Oil on canvas. 68.5 x 48.5 cm Framed. Signed 'Emil Nolde.' upper right in blue. Inscribed 'Emil Nolde: "Der Jäger"' verso upper left on stretcher. - In fine, original condition.
Emil Nolde typically wrote the titles of his paintings directly on the reverse side of the canvas or on the stretcher. And he has also done so in this case, naming his picture “Der Jäger”. However, the portrait's subject is not further personalised, for example, as “Der Jäger Fite Hansen”; Nolde leaves things at the name of his occupation: “hunter”. This approach is typical for Nolde, and only a few portraits - and, of those, only ones of his wife Ada or, after her death, likenesses of his last great love, Jolanthe - are assigned a name in their titles.
Nolde painted types, phenotypes, which exhibit regional characteristics much like a landscape or the flowers in his beds and gardens.
Nolde's artistic idiom is filled with an exquisite atmosphere and his expression is passionately intensified to the point of a seemingly archaic stylisation. Nolde's life between the metropolis of Berlin and the landscape in the north, his journeys to the nearby countryside and, not least, his excursion to the far-off island of New Ireland (then: New Mecklenburg) offered the artist stimulating models for his sometimes bizarre-looking, localised physiognomies.
With the portrait of the hunter seen in his green “Janker” (a traditional German style of jacket) in front of a living-room wall, his rosy-cheeked face marked by time spent outdoors, Nolde has individualised his subject and - with the unorthodox view and manner of painting typical of his work - immediately broken with the conventions of portraiture. Nolde's view of the hunter seems personal but, nonetheless, it does not really take into account the surroundings in which he lives. For that the sitter fills the canvas all too extensively in his direct frontality, and only a few clues, such as the flowers and the shimmering golden figure of Buddha in the background above the hunter's shoulder, point to the place where the work was created: the artist's home and studio. Viewers can experience how Nolde observed this person, thought about him and advanced towards the hunter's reticent and perhaps also sceptical pose. The latter may in turn feel uncertain about why a famous and successful artists has asked him - the hunter, of all people - to present himself for a portrait, getting himself involved in the long painting process, calmly sitting and watching the work emerge.
Nolde turned the painting over to be sold and, according to a letter by the artist, in April of 1922 it was in Frankfurt with the gallerist Ludwig Schames, one of the most important art dealers for Expressionism at that time. It was presumably shortly thereafter that “Der Jäger” became the property of the Frankfurt architect Paul Paravicini, to whom Nolde then wrote a few polite lines from Utenwarf in May: “It's a pleasure to know the little picture of the 'Jäger' is in your possession & I send you my most respectful greetings, Emil Nolde.” (cited from a document, Archiv der Nolde Stiftung Seebüll).
Paul Paravicini, Frankfurt am Main (1920/1921); private property, South Germany (1950, acquired from Paravicini), thenceforth family property; private property, Switzerland
Letters from Emil Nolde to Ludwig Schames, Frankfurt dated 6. IV.1922 and to Paul Paravicini, Frankfurt dated 9.V.1922, Archive Stiftung Seebüll Ada und Emil Nolde
Dresden (January) 1920 (Kunstausstellung Emil Richter), Emil Nolde, Gemälde, Aquarelle, Handzeichnungen, Radierungen, Holzschnitte, Lithographien, no. 26; Frankfurt (April-May) 1920 (Kunstsalon Ludwig Schames), Emil Nolde, no. 13; Frankfurt 1922 (Ludwig Schames)