Lot 169
  • 169

Max Pechstein

700,000 - 1,000,000 GBP
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  • Max Pechstein
  • Herbstabend (Autumn Evening)
  • signed HMPechstein and dated 1927 (lower left); signed HMPechstein twice, titled, inscribed Berlin W.62 Kurfürstenstr. 126., dedicated Gift for Mr. M. T. Wermel, Dr. Phil., from Prof. M. Pechstein. Berlin 30.IX.1947 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 80.6 by 100cm., 31 3/4 by 39 3/8 in.


Dr & Mrs Michael T. Wermel, Berlin & Washington, D.C. (a gift from the artist in 1947)
Freda Wermel, Reeser, Honolulu (by descent from the above; sale: Christie's, New York, 7th November 2007, lot 423)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Munich, Glaspalast, Münchner Neue Secession XIV, 1928, no. 222
Honolulu, Honolulu Academy of Fine Arts, Revelations: An Academy Celebration, 1982 (on loan)


Aya Soika, Max Pechstein: Das Werkverzeichnis der Ölgemälde, Munich, 2011, vol. II, no. 1927/20, illustrated in colour p. 372


The canvas is not lined. UV examination reveals a vertical intermittent line of retouching from the centre of the upper edge approximately 35cm long and further small spots and lines of retouching in places including along the edges but predominantly to the sky and most notably towards the upper right corner. There are some possible earlier retouchings along the edges. The canvas is slightly undulating and there are fine lines of craquelure throughout the more thickly applied pigments, with some tiny flecks of associated paint loss in places along the edges and to the leftmost and central roofs. There are faint stretcher bar marks along each edge. This work is in overall good condition.
"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.

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1927, during one of Max Pechstein’s extended stays by the Baltic Sea, Herbstabend is a wonderful example of the artist’s interwar years, during which he revived the brilliant colors of his pre-Brücke style.

Recognised as one of the most prominent painters of the German Expressionist movement, Max Pechstein’s paintings exemplify the confident brushwork, bright colours and exaggerated forms that characterise the Die Brücke group and their predecessors, the Fauves. Like his fellow German Expressionist painters as well as their French counterparts, over the summer months Pechstein sought to flee the frenzy of city life, and immerse himself in a more peaceful, ‘primitive’ environment where he could paint en plein air. Having spent several summers in the small fishing village of Nidden on the Baltic coast, in 1927 his search took him to Rowy, where he stayed for several months, from early June until October. Originally, Pechstein had left Berlin with the intention of depicting the locals. However, spells of bad weather spoiled the harvest and kept the locals too busy. Pechstein had to make alternative arrangements and focused instead on the rural landscape and the farm houses surrounding him. In a letter to George Grosz, Pechstein reports: 'Again I have found lodging by the Baltic Sea, in Rowy, a place, very secluded, as if forgotten. We keep house ourselves, so Marta has plenty to do. Unfortunately the weather is cold. I try to work in between showers' (translated from the German in Aya Soika, Max Pechstein: Das Werkverzeichnis der Ölgemälde, Munich, 2011, vol. II, p. 19).

Herbstabend presents us with Pechstein’s interpretation of village life: harmonious, tranquil and at one with nature. A setting evening sun lends a warm golden glow to the buildings whilst the different hues of cool blues and violets bring the composition to life.  The expressive execution and application of paint with large brush strokes are in line with the artist’s formal explorations at the time, demonstrating his determination to break through the traditional boundaries of painterly representation and aiming for the Expressionist stridency of colour and vision.