Lot 388
  • 388

EMIL NOLDE | Einschiffung (Embarkation)

150,000 - 200,000 GBP
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  • Emil Nolde
  • Einschiffung (Embarkation)
  • signed Emil Nolde (lower right); signed Emil Nolde and titled on the stretcher
  • oil on canvas
  • 73.6 by 88.3cm., 29 by 34 3/4 in.
  • Painted in 1911.


Bonde Bonnichsen, Stemmild, Denmark
F.H. Ulrich, Düsseldorf (by 1957)
Galerie Wilhelm Grosshennig, Düsseldorf (by 1966)
Wilhelm Reinhold, Hamburg (acquired from the above)
Private Collection, Hamburg (by descent from the above; sale: Christie's, London, 2nd February 2004, lot 30)
Private Collection, Switzerland (purchased at the above sale)
Private Collection (by descent from the above; sale: Sotheby's, London, 4th February 2010, lot 228)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Tønder, Tønder Museum, Emil Nolde, 1951, no. 31.
Odense, Fyns Stiftmuseum, Emil Nolde, 1956, no. 9
Kiel, Kunsthalle, Emil Nolde, 1956-57, no. 9


The artist's handlist, 1910, no. 367 (titled Holzeinschiffen III)
The artist's handlist, 1930, n.n.
Martin Urban, Emil Nolde, Catalogue raisonné of the Oil Paintings, 1895-1914, London, 1987, vol. I, no. 453, illustrated p. 392


The canvas is not lined and there do not appear to be any signs of retouching visible under UV light. The varnish is uneven in places which gives rise to some uneven fluorescence under UV. There are lines of craquelure throughout, which at present appear to be stable, most prominently to the waves, and with some paint lifting in places. There are some further areas of paint shrinkage to the darker pigments. The canvas is undulating and there are a few very minor flecks of paint loss in places, away from the central composition and not distracting. 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 1911, Einschiffung is a paradigmatic example of Nolde’s oeuvre, and a testament to the artist’s preoccupation with representing nature in its most vital form. Favouring the intense experience of the natural landscape over the cerebral narratives woven by many of his contemporaries, the artist championed a language of colour and feeling rather than that of any school or manifesto. Having been invited by Karl Schmidt-Rotluff in 1906 to align himself with the recently-formed group Die Brücke group, he would later distance himself from his peers, preferring instead to work alone, immersed in the vast landscapes before him. In the following years, Nolde spent much of his time in the North German province of Schleswig-Holstein where he had been brought up. It was here, in his constant proximity to the sea, that the artist began to experiment with the unique, almost otherworldly seascapes for which he is perhaps most celebrated. For Nolde, the sea contained something of the sublime and the primordial: ‘a divine, self-consuming, primal force that, in its untrammelled freedom, has existed unchanged since the very first day of creation’ (Max Sauerlandt, Emil Nolde, Munich, 1921, pp. 49-50).

In Einschiffung, a sailing boat towards the right of the composition is buffeted by breaking waves of pellucid blue, grey and turquoise. The yellow hull of the boat seems to be incandescent with the fading marine light of the distant horizon, and remains poised for a moment in the swell of energetically-impastoed waves. The present work is one of the artist’s early portraits of the sea, and features the characteristic hues of deep blue, violet and yellow which would become essential shades in Nolde’s palette of ocean colours.

Nolde's seascapes are remarkable for their ability to distil the immensity of the ocean into a single frame, a feat which is further highighted by the presence of the two horses in the foreground of the work. The animals walk against the current, the agitated, frothy surf around their legs seeming to encapsulate the indomitable of the power of the natural world. The image of the horse in the context of the early twentieth-century also seems to embody a sense of nostalgia for bygone technologies, particularly at a time when the increasingly machinic face of industry was omnipresent in Europe.