- Max Beckmann
- Nordseelandschaft I (Gewitter)North Sea I (Thunderstorm)
- Signed Beckmann and dated B. 37 (lower right)
- Oil on canvas
- 22 by 27½ in.
- 56.5 by 71.5 cm
Stephan Lackner, Santa Barbara, California (acquired from the artist)
Thence by descent to the present owner
Santa Barbara Museum of Art; San Francisco, Museum of Art & Pasadena, Art Institute, Max Beckmann, 1955, no. 21
Bremen, Kunsthalle; Berlin, Akademie der Künste; Karlsruhe, Badischer Kunstverein; Lucerne, Kunstmuseum; Linz, Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz Wolfgang Gurlitt-Museum & Vienna, Wiener Secession, Max Beckmann Gemälde und Aquarelle der Sammlung Stephan Lackner, 1966-67, no. 20, illustrated in the catalogue
Munich, Haus der Kunst; Berlin, Nationalgalerie; The Saint Louis Art Museum & Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Max Beckmann Retrospective, 1984-85, no. 76, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Benno Reifenberg, Max Beckmann, Munich, 1949, no. 382
Stephan Lackner, Max Beckmann, 1844-1950, Berlin, 1962, illustrated in color pl. 4
Stephan Lackner, Max Beckmann, Bastei, 1968, illustrated in color pp. 5 & 8
Erhard & Barbara Göpel, Max Beckmann, Katalog der Gemälde, vol. 1, Bern, 1976, no. 464, catalogued p. 301; vol. 2, illustrated pl. 161
Stephan Lackner, Max Beckmann, New York, 1977, no. 29, illustrated in color p. 129
Stephan Lackner, Beckmann, London, 1991, no. 26 illustrated in color p. 97
Stephan Lackner, Max Beckmann, Cologne, 1991, no. 25, illustrated in color p. 97
Carla Schulz-Hoffmann, Max Beckmann, Munich, 1991, illustrated in color pl. 44
Carla Schulz-Hoffmann, Christian Lenz & Beatrice von Bormann, Max Beckmann, Exile in Amsterdam, Munich, no. 29, illustrated in color p. 72
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Nordseelandschaft I (Gewitter) is one of five depictions of the North Sea that Beckmann painted mostly from memory in 1937. This Expressionist thunderstorm may be interpreted as a metaphor for the trouble that loomed on the horizon in 1930s Europe. According to Stephan Lackner, the present composition would be one of the last oils that Beckmann completed before leaving Berlin for Amsterdam in 1937, where he would spend the duration of the war. Painting seascapes gave solace to Beckmann, and it is not surprizing that he would turn to this subject at such an unsettling moment in history.
According to Stephan Lackner, the present painting exemplifies Beckmann's unwavering love of freedom during these difficult months that preceded the outbreak of war. "North Sea I, with Thunderstorm, of 1937 was painted when the artist was supremely sure of his powers. It seems to have been executed at great speed, with an almost furious spontaneity paralleling the fury of the waves. To heighten the momentary impact, Backmann pressed white paint on the canvas with a spatula or palette knife to indicate clouds. This method does not allow for finesse of contours and values; it had been used by Courbet and occasionally by Pissarro to express their personal temperaments. Beckmann succeeded in making the highlights on his cloud almost blinding. The contrast of the dark, tormented expanse with the foam in the foreground and the gleaming light in the distance is utterly dramatic... This work, in addition to providing a fascinating view of natural phenomena, is a glimpse into the painter's soul" (S. Lackner, op. cit., 1977, p. 128).