Evening over North Friesland
Watercolor on handmade Japanese paper. 34.6/9 x 46.5/47.1 cm. Signed 'Nolde' in black lower right. - In very fine, fresh condition.
Jolanthe Nolde, née Erdmann (1921-2010), estate; since then in family possession
Alongside figurative depictions and flowers, Emil Nolde's landscapes in watercolor are among his most important creations. With great ease of brushwork and a sure instinct for the selection of colors, Nolde created fascinating pictures of the North Frisian landscape surrounding him in direct contact with nature and without preliminary sketches: "Sometimes I also painted in the freezing evening hours and liked to see the colors on the paper set in crystalline stars and rays." (Emil Nolde, Mein Leben, Cologne 1990, p. 144). The present watercolor "Evening over North Friesland" was probably created in the countryside not far from Nolde's home in Utenwarf with this in mind. A narrow strip of green pastureland is adjoined on the horizon by isolated farmsteads, which almost dissolve under the flaming red-yellow-violet sky. Such a dramatic evening spectacle of nature can hardly be found anywhere else than in Nolde's North Frisian homeland, where he had finally settled in 1916 after living in Munich, Berlin and on the Danish island of Alsen.
Among the artistic role models for Nolde's work were the watercolors by William Turner, which he had seen in the Tate Gallery. The Briton captured his English landscape and the sea in all weathers and under different lighting conditions in numerous watercolors like no other artist. While Turner had mostly painted on the south-east coast of England, Nolde now looked at the same sea from the east (see Emil Nolde. Glühender Farbenrausch, Cologne 2018, p. 30). Both were never interested in an exact depiction of nature, but rather in the subjective realization of the atmosphere determined by light, wind and water.