Lot 375
  • 375

Max Pechstein

800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
852,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Max Pechstein
  • Stilleben vor einem Spiegel (Still Life in Front of a Mirror)
  • Signed HMPechstein and dated 1917 (lower left)
  • Oil on canvas


Kunsthandlung Fritz Gurlitt, Berlin (acquired by 1921)
Private Collection, Japan (acquired in Germany in the 1920s; thence by descent and sold: Christie's, London, June 18, 2007, lot 74)
Acquired at the above sale


Berlin, Ausstellunghaus am Kurfürstendamm, Dritten Ausstellung der Freien Secession Berlin, 1917, no. 135
Berlin, Kunstsalon Fritz Gurlitt, Max Pechstein, Teil I, Bildnisse, Landschaeften, Stilleben, 1918, no. 35 (possibly) 


Paul Kraemer, "Freie Secession" in Die Elegante Welt, August 1, 1917, vol. VI, no. 16, illustrated p. 4
Karl Scheffler, "Max Pechstein" in Kunst und Künstler, October 1918, vol. IIIXX, no. 1, illustrated p. 31
Karl Scheffler, Talente, Berlin, 1921, illustrated p. 163
Aya Soika, Max Pechstein: Das Werkverzeichnis der Ölgemälde, 1905-1918, vol. I, Berlin, 2011, no. 1917/16, illustrated p. 492

Catalogue Note

Returning to Berlin in 1917 following his release from military service, Pechstein experienced a great flurry of artistic activity and quickly regained his old fluency and vigor. The artist described his emotional return to painting in a letter from August 6, 1919 to his friend Georg Biermann: “...until in spring 1917 I could return to Berlin, in order to throw myself ravenously into the long desired sea of colors... Finally I am completely free, sitting in my beloved Nidden, working and bursting with energy” (quoted in Max Pechstein im Brücke-Museum Berlin (exhibition catalogue), Brücke-Museum, Berlin & traveling, 2001-02, p. 45, translated from German).

During these inter-war years Pechstein revived the brilliant colors of his pre-war style which he applied in thick brushstrokes. The luscious coloration of saturated yellows, reds and greens and the application of black contours seem to draw inspiration from French Fauve painting as well as the works of Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh. Heavily painted with bold sweeps of thick color Stilleben vor einem Spiegel is in line with the artist’s formal explorations at the time, demonstrating his determination to break through the traditional boundaries of painterly representation. Pechstein responds faithfully to Expressionist ideas aimed toward a distortion of form and perspective and a stridency of color and vision; the bold and simplified forms and distinctive black outlines brilliantly exemplify the artist's continuous experimentation with the painterly language of Expressionism. In the present work Pechstein creates a panorama of form and strong color that in its density conveys a powerful sense of the solidity and materiality of the still life. The powerful composition with its picture plane tilted up towards the viewer provides a feeling of being fully immersed within the composition.