"Herbst im Lahntal (Autumn in Lahntal)", 1933
Watercolour on paper
19.02 x 24.8 in / framed 33.46 x 38.19 in
Signed, dated, titled
- with handmade craftsman's frame and UV absorbing,
non-reflective glass -
Über das Werk
From an elevated vantage point, affording a bird's eye view as it were, our gaze sweeps over the enchantingly bucolic topography of the Lahntal. Thick plumes of smoke rise up from a harvest bonfire in the centre of the picture, partly obscuring the fields behind it. Drawing our eye to the right of the picture is Lubentius Basilika in Dietkirchen - today district of Limburg, which, together with the bonfire, marks an optical point of orientation in an otherwise multifaceted, formally varied and colourful landscape. Erich Heckel completed the water-colour "Autumn in Lahntal" in late 1933 whilst travelling through the regions of the Palatinate, the Saar and the Lahn. In exemplary manner, the painting demonstrates the customary total perspective Heckel used to fashion a panoramic extension of the pictorial space, which characterised his landscape and town pictures in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and which depicts all the essential elements of a pastoral scene in relation to the totality of the region. Fields and meadows, hedges and trees, rounded mountain crests and sloping forests combine to conjure a densely configured, organic and decorative entity of its own, which as a graphic structure shapes the tectonics of the dynamic compositional order. Heckel's keen interest in the richness of forms and colours in the observed scenery also becomes obvious. His powerful, yet equally subtle pictorial language is focused on the structural features of the landscape, and the composition resonates to a clear-defined rhythmic pattern. This impression is intensified by the two-dimensional simplification and stylisation of the pastoral scenery into individual, boldly-outlined fields of colour, which divide the entire image into a criss-crossing pattern of sweeping curves and arches. Highlighting a further aspect of this pastoral scene are the white palls of smoke: For the transience and changeability of air and smoke contrast starkly with the permanence of the landscape and architecture. And in the interplay with the harvested field, the bonfire enhances the autumnal ambience of the picture.