- Max Pechstein
- 款識：畫家簽名 Pechstein 並紀年1910（左下）
Private Collection, Germany (by descent from the above)
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2008
Vienna, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, 2009-2014 (on loan)
Aya Soika, Max Pechstein, Das Werkverzeichnis der Ölgemälde, Munich, 2011, vol. I, no. 1910/62, illustrated in colour p. 275
Pechstein was one of the leading members of Die Brücke, a group of avant-garde German artists, including Emil Nolde and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, whose work defined the German Expressionist movement during the early twentieth century. Inspired by the vivid palettes of the Fauve painters Matisse and van Dongen, in 1906 they banded together to form their own artistic group in Dresden. The group’s manifesto, written by Kirchner, heralded their revolutionary mission: ‘With faith in growth and in a new generation of creators and those who enjoy art, we call all young people together, and as the young that bear the future within it we shall create for ourselves elbowroom and freedom of life as opposed to the well-entrenched older forces. Everyone who renders directly and honestly whatever drives him to create is one of us’ (reprinted in Masterpieces of German Expressionism at the Detroit Institute of Arts, New York, 1982, p. 11).
By 1910, the artist had developed his own distinct style of painting, which is demonstrated clearly in the present work. Pechstein spent the summer of 1910 with Heckel and Kirchner in Moritzburg, enjoying the atmosphere of mutual creativity and experimentation that it offered. Alongside the pictures he produced that summer and the canvases inspired by the nightlife of Berlin, Pechstein also painted a number of portraits of women including many of his wife Lotte (fig. 4). These compositions were noted for their powerful colour and dynamic execution, possibly reflecting the influence of van Dongen's radical use of colour in portraiture (fig. 3). They confirm Pechstein's position as a leading avant-garde artist. Throughout the year, Pechstein was also hard at work organizing the New Secession exhibitions and by the time of the third edition of the New Secession in February 1911 – in which Pechstein chose to exhibit the present work – the artist was considered to be the leading light of the German avant-garde.
In particular, his technical skill was widely praised, and often served to distinguish him from other painters of the Brücke group; Franz Marc commented on this in a letter to Kandinsky, writing: ‘In outward appearance, Pechstein is more beautiful [than Kirchner and Heckel], the composition more apparent, in his weaker works too obviously so, but his stronger works ring unfathomably like bells’ (quoted in B. Fulda & A. Soika, Max Pechstein: The Rise and Fall of Expressionism, Berlin, 2012, p. 120). This technical ability is particularly evident in the more formal composition of the present work where Pechstein creates a sense of depth and space through the skilful juxtaposition of bright planes of colour. Pechstein evidently felt this combination was particularly successful, going on to use it in a number of subsequent portraits including the 1911 painting Mädchen im Matrosenkleid and his Männerbildnis: Bruno Schneidereit (currently on loan to the Courtauld Gallery, London) of the following year.