• Emil Nolde

    ca. 1928, Aquarell auf Japanpapier, 33,3 x 46,51 cm
  • Sonnenblumen
    ca. 1928, Aquarell auf Japanpapier, 33,3 x 46,51 cm
  • Bauernhaus in der Marschlandschaft
    ca. 1920/25, Aquarell auf Japanpapier, 33 x 45,5 cm
  • Meer mit Dampfer
    ca. 1945/48, Aquarell und Tusche auf Japanpapier, 23,8 x 21,3 cm


Emil Nolde (1867-1956)

Even today, Nolde's paintings, which show gardens, flowers, sea views and motifs from life, are still popular compositions. The work impresses with bright colors, strong contrasts and expressive brushwork, which reflects Nolde's love of his homeland: Northern Germany with its windswept arts and the turbulent sea, as shown in the famous painting “Brecher” from 1936 . The high-contrast image with the dark, red clouds over the storm-tossed sea unfolds the power of nature.

Emil Nolde was born on August 7, 1867 as Hans Emil Hansen in Nolde, Schleswig-Holstein. As the son of a farming family, his childhood and youth were determined by hard work and poor conditions. From 1884 to 1888, at his father's insistence, he completed an apprenticeship as a carver and draftsman at the arts and crafts school in Flensburg. He then worked for various furniture factories throughout Germany and in 1892 took up a position as a teacher of commercial and ornamental design drawing in St. Gallen. During this time he did painting alongside work and taught himself to do it. From 1898 he produced a series of landscape watercolors and drawings. His style of this period is late impressionist and symbolically inspired. From then on, printing his drawings as postcards enabled him to live as a freelance artist. He then began studying in Dachau at Adolf Hölzel's private painting school. A year later he enrolled at the Académie Julian in Paris and in 1900 he rented a studio in Copenhagen. His style is characterized by simplification, with large-scale application of color and a departure from detail. The name was changed to Nolde in 1902: the artist took the name of his home village in northern Schleswig in order to emphasize his connection to his homeland. From 1903 he painted lyrical landscapes, became a member of the Schleswig-Holstein Art Cooperative and took part in five different exhibitions until 1912. Among other things, at the annual exhibition in the Flensburg Museum. His work from this time increasingly relied on color and depicted garden and flower images, which brought him to the attention of the Brücke artist group. His works impressed the association's younger artists such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Fritz Bleyl. He accepted the invitation to join in 1906. From then on he used a broader, more intensely colored application of paint, thereby creating monumentality, structure and the possibility of developing the expressive potential of the images. During his membership, he exhibits his works in eight different exhibitions and 25 locations. In 1909 Nolde became a member of the Berlin Secession, which initially rejected expressionist artists under Max Liebermann. For this reason, Nolde, Max Pechstein, Georg Trappert and other expressionist artists founded the New Secession. The group's first exhibition took place in Berlin in 1910. During this time, Nolde created his first religious pictures: he dealt with Christian motifs such as the Last Supper, Pentecost and depictions of the Virgin Mary, but also painted Berlin's nightlife in contrast to this. Between 1913 and 1914 he took part in a medical-demographic expedition to German New Guinea (Papua New Guinea). During the six-month journey, a large number of watercolors and paintings were created of the local people, but also of the travel stops (e.g. China, Japan). His style is deeply influenced by the works of Paul Gauguin. In 1926 Nolde acquired a terp near Neukirchen, which he called Seebüll and became the residence of the Nolde family. From this time on, his famous sunflower series was created, starting with the “High(n) Sunflowers”: The painting shows a frontal view of three bright sunflowers in the middle of a colorful flower meadow. On the occasion of his 60th birthday, an anniversary exhibition in Dresden is being dedicated to the artist, which shows how important his work was for the German art landscape during his lifetime. In 1937, parts of his works appeared in the exhibition Degenerate Art of the National Socialists, but Nolde subsequently managed to sell and produce more paintings. Financially, he was one of the most successful German artists in the 1930s and 40s. He died on April 13, 1956 in Seebüll.

Emil Nolde is one of the leading Expressionist artists, particularly known for his watercolors and his expressive choice of colors.

What one paints is to the painter, like the instrument on which the musician plays his notes

Emil Nolde ©Photo, Minya Diez-Dührkopp


Museum and single exhibitions (selection)


Emil Nolde: My Way of Painting …Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany


I Usually Prime With Chalk… - Emil Nolde’s Painting Technique, Hamburger Kunsthalle
Nolde and the North, Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg, Germany


Emil Nolde - A German legend. The artist in National Socialism. Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, Germany


Emil Nolde - Colour is Life. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom


Nolde und die Brücke. Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Germany


Nolde in Hamburg. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany


Eml Nolde – Retrospektive. Städel Museum. Frankfurt/Main, Germany


Emil Nolde - In Glut und Farbe. Belvedere, Vienna, Austria


Emil Nolde. In Search of the Authentic. The National Gallery Oslo. Norway


Emil Nolde. Aquarelle. Pinakothek der Moderne. Munich, Germany


Emil Nolde. Galeries nationales du Grand Palais. Paris, France


Emil Nolde – Hülltoft Hof. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany


Emil Nolde und die Sammlung Sprengel 1937 bis 1956. Sprengel Museum Hannover, Germany


Nolde - the painter's prints. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) Los Angeles, CA, United States


documenta 3. Documenta. Kassel, Germany


Emil Nolde: 1867-1956. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York City, NY, United States