Head of a women
Mask and flowers

Emil Nolde

Head of a women

1912
Woodcut on firm wove paper
12 x 8 3/4 inches (30,2 x 22,3 cm)


Our copy is one of at least 10 prints of the third state.

Emil Nolde

Mask and flowers

1919
Oil on canvas
19 1/4 x 16 1/2 inches (49 x 42 cm)


Nolde's painting to which Max Sauerlandt names a counterpart in the Catalogue raisonné from 1921 (See Urban, No. 847), impresses with its overwhelming luminosity and an extraordinary, almost relief-like structure. With full power and immediacy, Nolde carries the colours with free and impressive impasto onto the canvas and monumentalises his objects. An exotic Japanese mask and a bouquet of flowers together make up one of the typical so-called "Still lifes" of the artist.

The work is part of the series of paintings that address Noldes’s confrontation with other countries and his love of non-European art. After Noldes New Guinea Expedition in 1913/14 he is fascinated by the art of the “primitive cultures”, and creates an ethnological private collection with hundreds of objects, from African wooden idols to oceanic totems to Japanese Nō masks (the mask depicted is now in the artist’s ethnographic collection in the Nolde- Foundation Seebüll).

In particular, the mask plays an important role in Noldes art, also as a motif of longing and interest in foreign cultures. Such an object inspires the artist to create images in which his creative power and genius can fully unfold. As a result, we see a colorful masterpiece of museum quality.

Über Emil Nolde

Born: 1867 in Nolde
Died: 1956 in Seebüll

Emil Hansen, who later took the name of his home town of Nolde as an artist, was born on August 7, 1867 in the German-Danish borderland. He began his artistic career with depictions of mountain trolls and mythical creatures, which were published as postcards and with which the young artist, who came from a farming family, unexpectedly achieved his first success. With the decision to become a painter, Nolde went to Munich, where he studied at Adolf Hölzel's private painting school in Dachau and from 1899 at the Académie Julian in Paris. Through his involvement with the Neo-Impressionists van Gogh, Munch and Ensor, from 1905 onwards the artist moved from his initially Romantic Naturalism to an independent style in which colour played a major role. Colour-intensive, luminous watercolours of flowers evolved. During a sojourn in Alsen in 1906, Nolde met the "Brücke" (Bridge) painters, whose group he temporarily joined. After his exclusion from the "Berliner Sezession" (Berlin Secession), of which he had been a member since 1908, he founded the "Neue Sezession" (New Secession) together with other rejected artists in 1910. The artist was also increasingly fascinated by Primitivism. He returned from an expedition to New Guinea in 1913 with plenty of study material, which he worked up in numerous works until 1915. From 1916 Nolde spent the summers on the island of Föhr, and in 1928 he settled in Seebüll. The garden laid out there became an unfailing source of inspiration for his painting. Coasts, luminous marsh and sea landscapes and religious scenes were other primary pictorial motifs, but also the lesser-known mountain landscapes resulting from the numerous vacations to his adopted country of Switzerland in the 1920s to 40s were among these.

Nolde's role during the period of National Socialism has been extensively examined for years by art historical research, above all by the Nolde Foundation. Efforts by the painter to offer his pictures to the Nazi rulers as new folk art and to establish himself as a state artist were categorically rejected by them. Nolde's painting were neither in terms of content nor formally compatible with the ideas of the National Socialists. From 1941 onwards, the artist was banned from working and thousands of works were confiscated. Nevertheless, Nolde continued to work continuously during the war. As painting material was scarce, he fell back on the little which was available and painted smaller formats. These works known as "unpainted pictures" were created from 1931 onwards. After the war, Nolde wrote his memoirs and thus also promoted the myths surrounding his own person, which would shape his image for future generations. The latest research in this regard has meanwhile revealed a much differentiated picture of Emil Nolde as a person and his political and ideological position. His art, however, stands for itself and has lost none of its fascinating radiance with its distinctive colour intensity for today's viewers.

In the last years of Nolde's life, he mainly created watercolours with floral and landscape motifs from the surroundings of his house in Seebüll, where he died in 1956. Shortly afterwards the Ada and Emil Nolde Foundation in Seebüll was established to administer the extensive estate.