Recognized as one of the most prominent painters of the German Expressionist movement, Max Pechstein exemplified in his paintings the confident brushwork, bright colors and exaggerated forms that characterize the Die Brücke group’s approach to art, which was quite evidently influenced by the French Fauves. While the present work depicts a quiet scene on country roads leading to a village in the German countryside, a certain sense of agitation and tension is exuded through the artist’s choice of simplified forms, energetic brushstrokes and a somber palette punctuated with vivid orange and mauve pigments. The emotional force of the imagery runs in conjunction with the German Expressionists’ desire to capture the immediate atmosphere of a scene rather than its formal qualities and exact likeness. In this way, the fundamental tenets of the Die Brücke artists echoed those of their Impressionist predecessors; they largely believed that process took precedence over product, and that impressions should be captured spontaneously.
The present picture was likely completed during the Weimar years immediately following World War I. During this time, Pechstein travelled around the country and painted extensively. He once observed in a letter: "I drown everything in color, my brain is filled only with paintings, and the idea of what to paint drives me from one place to the other, already at eight in the evening I fall into bed dead tired, and yet I have still got mountains [of work] to deal with, if it were possible I would have to spend three years here without interruption and work like a horse to finish it at some point... Only painting still keeps me going, once it is over, I will certainly collapse, so [one has to] harvest, bring into the barn, as long as still possible" (quoted in Bernhard Fulda & Aya Soika, Max Pechstein: The Rise and Fall of Expressionism, Berlin, 2012, p. 229).