A Still Life of Flowers with a Wooden Sculpture - Nolde, Emil

Fine Art

Nolde, Emil

German-Danish, 1867–1956

A Still Life of Flowers with a Wooden Sculpture


Oil on panel
34 3/4 x 29 inches (88.5 x 73.5 cm)
Framed: 44 x 38 ½ inches (112 x 98 cm)
Signed lower right: Emil Nolde


Alice Sauerlandt, Hamburg (gift by the artist, 1947)
Gallery Hermann Abels, Cologne
Felix Peltzer, Stolberg
Kunsthaus Lempertz, Cologne, 607. sale, 4th / 5th June 1985, lot 665
Private collection Germany (1985)
Sotheby’s, London, 30th June 1987, lot 59
Gallery Osper, Cologne (1989)
Collection Friedrich Wilhelm Waffenschmidt, Monte Carlo/ Cologne (since 1989)


Fyns Stiftsmuseum, Odense 1937
Hamburger Kunstverein 1947
Overbeck-Gesellschaft, Lübeck 1947
Volkswagenwerk, Wolfsburg 1956
Museum Verviers 1958
Suermondt-Museum, Aachen 1959
Suermondt-Museum, Aachen 1962


Urban, Martin, Emil Nolde – Werkverzeichnis der Gemälde, Zweiter Band, 1915 – 1951,
München 1987, WVZ.-Nr. 1064
art. Das Kunstmagazin, Hamburg 1985, Nr. 5, S. 120 with color ill.
Weltkunst, Band 55, Nr. 10, München 1985, S. 1469 with color ill.


This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Prof. Dr. Martin Urban, Nolde Stiftung Seebüll dated December 1, 1987.

Emil Nolde was a German-Danish painter and printmaker, one of the first Expressionists, and a member of Die Brücke. Today, Nolde is known for his brushwork and expressive choice of colors used in his paintings and prints of flowers, landscapes, and folklore.

The artist was born Emil Hansen on August 7, 1867, into a farming family in Nolde, Germany. He initially made his living as a wood-carver, then attended the School of Applied Arts in Karlsruhe. He became a drawing instructor at the school of the Museum of Industrial and Applied Arts in St. Gallen, Switzerland, from 1892 to 1898 before leaving to pursue his own art.

In 1898, Nolde was rejected by the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. He spent the next three years taking private painting classes, visiting Paris, and becoming familiar with the contemporary Impressionist scene. In 1902, he married Danish actress Ada Vilstrup, and the couple moved to Berlin where he would meet collector Gustav Schiefler and artist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, both of whom would advocate his work later in life. That same year he changed his name to reflect his birthplace.

In 1906, Nolde was invited to join the revolutionary Expressionist group Die Brücke (The Bridge), an association of Dresden-based Expressionist artists. This association lasted only until the end of the following year. He exhibited with Kandinsky’s Munich-based group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) in 1912.

Later in his life Nolde was an early advocate of Germany’s National Socialist Party. However, when Hitler rejected all forms of modernism as “degenerate art”, the Nazi regime officially condemned Nolde’s work. His works were removed from museums and many were included in the Degenerate Art exhibition of 1937. He was forbidden to paint but during this period he created hundreds of watercolors, which he kept in hiding.

The artist died on April 15, 1956, in Seebüll, Germany at the age of 88. His works are presently held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Kunstmuseum Basel, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Albertina in Vienna.

Nolde’s preoccupation with the subject of flowers reflected his interest in the art of Vincent van Gogh, and our painting surely reflects this influence. Dazzling golden yellow rudbeckia and vibrant red poppies immediately draw the viewer’s eye, their dark centers reflecting the warm browns in the titular wooden sculpture in the background. Painted to resemble incised wood, this decorative piece is perhaps a nod to Nolde’s early employment as a woodcarver, and was likely influenced by his visit to the East Indies as part of an ethnological expedition in 1913. The work’s bright colors are complemented by luminous blue tones: a turqouise background, a robin’s egg blue table top tempered with swirls of white, and a vivid cobalt vase, all painted in the vibrant tones and broad brush strokes of the Expressionists.

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