"Überschwemmung (Atelierblick) (The Flood (View from the Studio))", ca. 1926
Oil on canvas
19.69 x 31.5 in / framed 25.2 x 37.4 in
Signed "O. Modersohn"
Signed verso on stretcher frame "Überschwemmung"
Expertise Rainer Noeres from August 8, 2013,
Otto Modersohn Museum, Fischerhude
- with craftsman's frame -
Über das Werk
The unique atmosphere of bleak autumnal and wintery days, evening twilight and the pallid nocturnal moonshine can be identified as the principal themes of Otto Modersohn's late works. The dominant, at times bold colours of the early pictures are now giving way to a delicate, more translucent palette, the radiant sunlight to a nebulous dusky light, and the clearly delineated motifs to a filigree texture of intricate brush strokes. "The broad brushes are fine for the lay-in", wrote the artist in 1993, "but subsequently I particularly enjoy working with the small pointed brushes to go over the coloured areas. The surface becomes amenable, more mysterious ... a vibrating web emerges ... - all hardness dissipates ..."
As is the case here, in the eyes of the artist gazing out onto the late autumnal or wintry landscape. The Wümme, the small river which branches out into an inland delta known as the "Wümme meadows", has burst its banks and, with exception of some green islands, has flooded the entire plain. Shimmering across this vast sea of water are mirrored reflections of the surrounding countryside, which lend the painting an enchanting, resonating lightness. Dense rows of trees flanking the broad track, which extends into the depth of the picture and ends at an isolated farmstead, stretch out their naked wintry branches into the pallid glow of the sky. The contours of the earth-toned figures, clad in red and blue garments and a white bonnet, the horse-drawn coach and the peasant driving the swine, all appear to melt into the soft, heavy atmosphere of a winter's day.
It is these still, melancholic moments in the landscape which the artist sought to capture, and infuse the entire scene with a dream-like, mystical quality, "gentle, heart-felt and intimate". "I am drawn to that which is only adumbrated or intimated", wrote Otto Modersohn in his diary in 1935, "which is why I love the twilight, moonshine etc.. That was the inspiration of many compositions. That is my personal nature."