"Rote Amaryllis (Red Amaryllis)", ca. 1930
Watercolour on paper
18.62 x 13.94 in / framed 29.53 x 24.8 in
Signed bottom right "Nolde"
Photographic expertise Prof. Dr. Manfred Reuther,
Nolde Stiftung Seebüll October 23, 2006
- with craftsman's frame -
Über das Werk
"It was mid-summer on the Baltic island of Alsen. The colours of the flowers exercised an irresistible appeal on me, and almost immediately I found myself painting. (…) The refulgent colours of the flowers and the purity of the colours - I loved them." So writes Emil Nolde in his autobiography, describing his fascination for the floral motif to which he remained passionately devoted throughout his whole life. Initially whilst still on the Isle of Alsen, subsequently also in Utenwarf, where Ada und Emil Nolde occupied an old farmer's cottage from 1916, and then finally in his self-designed house-cum-studio in Seebüll, the painter always created his own flower garden, which served as an inexhaustible and constant source of innovative and fresh ideas for his numerous depictions of flowers and gardens. Inspired by his immediate encounter with nature, Nolde began to dedicate himself intensively to the physical and sensual expressivity of pure, luminous colour. In addition to the summer garden, the artists also displayed a penchant for exotic objects and flowers. Consequently, the extensive series of floral works, in which the artist's primary focus lay less in carefully-arranged stilllifes and more in the rich spectrum of the flowers' natural colours and forms, remained a central feature of his output. Particularly in water-colour, Nolde found the ideal medium with which to capture the emotional power and intensity of colour. This free-flowing aqueous material and his rapid brush technique furnished him with the means to explore the diverse range of options of unconventional composition on the absorbent Japan paper.
Accordingly, this rendering of a blossoming red amaryllis against a dark-blue ground abounds in expressive energy and explosive vitality through the iridescent and intense luminosity of his enhanced colours. Dispensing with unessential details and an all too faithful representation of forms, Nolde deploys his virtuosic painting technique to brilliantly execute this format-filling close-up of his alluring subject. The subtle overlapping and interpenetration of transparent layers of colour, delicate concentrations and dissolutions of surface and form, together with experimental smears and the irregular contours of his wet-in-wet painting technique elevate colour to an autonomous compositional element and lend this impressive water-colour an authentic freshness and a vibrant lightness.