Auction 1223 Evening Sale Modern and Contemporary Art on 6 June 2023

Key Works of Expressionism

The outstanding work in this high-class auction is Hermann Max Pechstein’s ‘Self-portrait, reclining’ (lot 43) with an expectation of 1.5 to 2 million euro. It was painted in 1909 during Pechstein’s artistic heyday and at the beginning of his breakthrough as a freelance artist. This key work will go under the hammer in the Evening Sale of Modern and Contemporary Art on 6th June. The late phase of his creativity was of particular importance for Lovis Corinth, and it was during this time that he painted his magnificent large-format still life, ‘Zinnien’ (lot 24, € 300/400,000). From Ernst Ludwig Kirchner we have the important sheet ‘Zwei Frauen’ (lot 31, € 300/350,000), formerly in the Max Sauerlandt Collection. ‘Tagesspuk auf dem Hauptplatz’ by Paul Klee (lot 61, € 170/200,000) also has an excellent provenance, namely the Heinrich Stinnes Collection. Ernst Wilhelm Nay is represented in the auction with several important works, led by ‘Mit weißer Spindel’ (lot 37, € 400/500,000) from his particularly exciting late phase. Emil Nolde is represented with a varied selection of remarkable watercolors (estimates from € 60,000 to € 150,000). The auction starts with several sheets by Lyonel Feininger (lots 1-9, estimates from €20,000 to €40,000) from the collection of the Düsseldorf architect Walter Brune, including maritime pieces, in which Feininger provides very personal insights into his life.

With his painting ‘Self-portrait, reclining’, the then 28-year-old Max Pechstein makes a statement: In strong, bright colours, he shows himself as a painter, at the centre of the picture, mediator between the paint in his right hand and the working of the canvas with his left. His gaze is fixed on the viewer. He had his breakthrough only shortly before with the spring exhibition of the Berlin Secession, after which he was also successful on the market. With corresponding self-confidence, he depicts himself for the first time in large format on the canvas. This self-confidence is also artistically justified for a new aesthetic had been found: “The ice was broken, and my art, which art scholars later called ‘Expressionism’, had successfully begun to take its course” (cited in Aya Soika, Max Pechstein. Das Werkverzeichnis der Ölgemälde, vol. 1, Munich 2011, p. 13). In this work, Pechstein shows his fully developed style: with the bright colours composed in large areas, the picture emancipated him from role models such as Van Gogh or Pointillism. This style would also become influential for the ‘Brücke’ artist’s association, of which Max Pechstein became a leading figure. The owners of the collection from which the work came recognised its outstanding importance early on. During its time of around 90 years in the same Rhenish private collection, this key work of Expressionism has been lent to numerous exhibitions. It will now be offered market-fresh on 6th June with an expectation of 2 million euro.

Lovis Corinth arrived at his personal interpretation of Expressionism in his late phase. It is especially evident in the floral still lifes such as ‘Zinnien’ (lot 24, € 300/400,000), where he can be seen revelling in the colours of nature, which he also observed and experienced in his garden at Walchensee. However, something muted is always mixed into his palette, making visible the vanitas character of every still life, in Corinth’s mature works in particular. ‘Zinnien’ was created one year before his death, and is an important example of this phase, in which he brought the freshness and transience of nature to the canvas.

‘Zwei Frauen’ is an important and extremely personal work on paper by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and will be offered for sale on 6th June (lot 31, € 300/350,000). This 1912 pastel and charcoal work reflects his move to Berlin, a metropolis marked by progress and speed. The resolutely set lines of his drawings formed longer and more elegant shapes from this time on. He met the sitters of his portrait, the sisters Gerda and Erna Schilling, in Berlin and would go on to forge a deeper relationship with them - he was briefly involved with Gerda, and for a longer period with Erna. Kirchner would develop the composition of this sheet - from the Max Sauerlandt Collection - again in later paintings.

The watercolour and ink pen sheet ‘Tagesspuk auf dem Hauptplatz’ (lot 61, € 300/350,000) which Paul Klee created in 1929, shows his enthusiasm for the fantastic. A scene at a marketplace is atmospherically enlivened by glazed colours whilst haunted by a friendly spook that wraps itself around individual figures in circular forms. Paul Klee hereby finds a cheerful way of showing that intermediate world between reality and fantasy that so preoccupied him. This sheet also has an excellent provenance, formerly in the Heinrich Stinnes Collection.

Ernst Wilhelm Nay moved to a new, powerful style in his mature phase. Two-dimensional colours seem to dance with each other, using the pictorial space equally. ‘Mit weißer Spindel’ (lot 37, € 400/500,000) is a late work in which this style is fully expressed. Here the colours shine around a centrally placed spindle form in brilliant white. One year before his death, Ernst Wilhelm Nay created one of the most important works of his mature phase.

Auction Dates

Auction 1223 - Evening Sale - Modern Art

Photography Post War & Contemporary Art Modern Art
Tuesday 06. 06. 2023, 06:00 pm
Lot 1 - 97
Auction 1223
Tuesday, June 6
6 pm: Lot 1 – 97
Thursday/Friday, 1/2 June, 10 am - 5.30 pm
Saturday, June 3, 10 am - 4 pm
Sunday, June 4, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Monday, June 5, 10 a.m. - 5.30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 31, 6 pm

Berlin, Poststr. 22 (a selection)
Tuesday, May 23, 10 am - 9 pm
Wednesday, 24 May 10 am - 5 pm
Tuesday, May 23, 6 pm

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 0221/92 57 29–30.


Jan Bykowski
Press and public relations