"Alter Wümmearm im Sommer (Old Branch of the Wümme in Summer)", 1969
Watercolour on paper
24.41 x 17.13 in / framed 33.07 x 25.59 in
Signed bottom left "Modersohn 69"
Über das Werk
Until well into advanced age, Christian Modersohn could regularly be found painting on the banks of the northern branch of the River Wümme - frequently of an evening, with his gaze trained towards the West. One of the few watercolours taking in the view eastwards, this work was painted in all likelihood around midday from the embankment of the old, unstraightened arm of the Wümme; To the right are the tall oak trees flanking the Bredenau (road), at whose end both his residence, and from 1974, the Otto Modersohn Museum are located. Impressive is the artistry with which the painter catches the reflection of the trees in the water, or the rays of sunlight falling through the leafy boughs of the great oaks, highlighting the green hues in all their various gradations. It is a special motive executed in vertical format, a rarity for Modersohn. In immediate proximity to the right is the studio of the sculptor and painter Clara Rilke-Westhoff, wife of Rainer Maria Rilkes and friend of Paula Modersohn-Becker. Clara Rilke moved to Fischerhude in 1919, where her mother also owned a small weekend cottage on the banks of the Wümme. Having been living apart from his wife for several years, Rilke had never entered the dwelling, whose house motto he nevertheless coined: "From the upheavals of the past I draw the confidence to believe I can and will!"
Christian Modersohn was a frequent guest at the literary evenings held by Clara Rilke-Westhoff, at which she recited her husband's poetry and read from his correspondence discussing Rodin and Cézanne. Today the former Rilke residence houses the café frequented by Christian Modersohn, where he would relate of his encounters with Clara Rilke-Westhoff and of the legendary literary soirées by reciting the passages from Rodin which were often quoted by Clara Rilke-Westhoff and which he himself held dear: "The artist who overflows with feeling cannot imagine anything that is not as endowed as he is himself. In all nature he surmises a great spirit, similar to his own. There is no living organism, no inert object, no cloud in the sky, no green shoot in the meadow that does not entrust him with the immense power concealed in all things. Look at the masterpieces of art; All their beauty comes from the thought, the purpose that their authors believed they divined in the Universe. I have resigned myself to being just a minor cog in the chain, who may, however, contributed to introducing insight and order into art. And perhaps who may be heeded when preaching of the simplicity of the fundamental conditions for achieving happiness and beauty. For the spirit can only progress under the one condition that each new idea aligns itself, silently and patiently, with the thinking of past generations."