Oil on canvas. 87.8 x 62.3 cm. Framed. Signed 'H. Purrmann' in orange lower right. - Overall in vey good condition, with minor marginal rubbing.
The title of this large-format floral still life by Hans Purrmann includes “Montagnola” – the name of a serene little town located on the Collina d’Oro, above Lugano in the Swiss canton of Ticino. In 1943 this town became a place of refuge for Purrmann in the midst of the Second World War, when he and fellow painters Rudolf Levy and Friedrich Kriegbaum found themselves exposed to increasing reprisals as Germans in Florence. With the help of a visa from the Swiss consul, Purrmann was initially able to travel to Zurich. In the spring of 1944 he moved into a flat and studio in Casa Camuzzi, the house where Hermann Hesse had previously lived. With excursions to Nice, Vence and Sorrento, Purrmann would continue to live in Montagnola until his death in 1966.
This dreamlike area above Lake Lugano inspired Purrmann to create numerous intensely colourful landscape pictures. However, during his Swiss period, he also created important portraits and many floral still lifes with recurring elements like antique reliefs and statuettes. In the present floral piece, two stems bearing orange-coloured lilies stand in a tall vase that features floral decoration and the suggestion of handles. The colourful vase and the flowers have been placed in front of wallpaper that bears a floral pattern, but is grey. In contrast to many other floral still lifes from this period, the background’s grey tone causes it to recede, even if it repeats and underscores the painting’s central subject through its motif. The vase and the wide-open flowers accordingly stand out against this ground and are invested with a palpable sense of three-dimensional form through their slightly diagonal arrangement and the directional light.
Not recorded by Lenz/Billeter
We would like to thank Felix Billeter, Munich, for confirmatiry information. The work is recorded in the Purrmann-Archive under no. 1393 and will be included in a new edition of the catalogue raisonné.
Galerie Schwarzer, Düsseldorf (2012); Private property, North Rhine Westphalia