- Max Pechstein
- Stilleben mit Pfeife (Still-Life with Pipe) - Recto Palau Mädchen (Palau Girls) – Verso
- signed HMP and dated 1917 (lower right); titled on the stretcher
- oil on canvas
- 71 by 81cm.
- 28 by 32in.
Sale: Sotheby's, Munich, 8th June 1988, lot 43
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Magdalena M. Moeller, Max Pechstein. Sein malerisches Werk, Munich, 1996, no. 91, illustrated p. 318
Aya Soika, Max Pechstein: Das Werkverzeichnis der Ölgemälde, Munich, 2011, vol. I, no. 1917/6, illustrated in colour p. 485
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Soon after his return, Pechstein joined the army and served with distinction on the Western Front. Understandably, he had little or no opportunity to paint during his time in uniform and therefore the transfer to canvas of his Palau experiences were put on hold. However, in May 1917 he returned home to Berlin for good having been seconded to the Flying Corps as an aerial photography analyst. This move effectively safe-guarded him for the remainder of the war and may have been due to certain influential friends and patrons who petitioned for his return from the frontline. In June 1917 he declared to his friend Alexander Gerbig: ‘There is only one thing I still want to do, to work and only to work, to contribute to the clarification of the conditions of our time and art’ (quoted in B. Fulda & A. Soika, Max Pechstein: The Rise and Fall of Expressionism, Berlin, 2012, p. 195).
After the initial difficulties Pechstein faced when he returned to his studio, he soon began to paint again, quickly regaining his old fluency and verve. Discussing this period of intense production, Bernhard Fulda and Aya Soika relate it directly to his trip to the Pacific, writing: ‘For over two years he [Pechstein] had yearned to render his Palau experience in oil, now paintings based on his sketches from Palau were among the first pictures which he produced. Landscapes dominated by the lush green of tropical vegetation, the dark blue of the Pacific, and the glowing yellow and red of sand and earth made for spectacularly colourful compositions’ (B. Fulda & A. Soika, ibid., p. 196). The Palau landscapes marked a new phase in the artist’s career. He became commercially successful with some of his canvases commanding prices in excess of 2000 marks (more than the annual income of a working-class household), and with the Palau landscapes he also achieved critical success. In 1918 his dealer reopened his gallery, and the debut exhibition was a solo-show of Pechstein’s most recent paintings, including the present work. The soft contours and rich colouration that defined his 1917 paintings drew praise from critics such as Fritz Stahl, who wrote: ‘Only now do I believe in the painter Pechstein. […] No longer caricatures, [but] humans standing there, women even in all gracefulness with delicate limbs and fine hands’ (F. Stahl, ‘Max Pechstein’, in Berliner Tageblatt, 3rd June 1918).