Dated to 1909, Kurische Braut
is an important work from Max Pechstein’s formative first trip to Nidden on the Baltic Coast. The Expressionists held a deep fascination for folk art and the exotic, partly inspired by countless trips to the Museum für Völkerkunde
, and equally by Gauguin's paintings of Tahiti. Driven by the desire to experience life at one with nature, 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
. In 1909, Pechstein travelled to the Baltic Coast and discovered Nidden, a small fishing village, with a surrounding landscape unspoiled by civilisation. Max Pechstein immediately fell for its natural, preindustrial landscape, which allowed him to experience perfect harmony with the countryside. This newly found freedom led him to explore his creativity without inhibitions and develop his own, mature style. He showed great interest in the customs and lifestyle of the local people and imitated their way of life by walking barefoot and by growing a beard. Pechstein made an effort to be accepted by the villagers, who initially did not want to sit for him, by volunteering to help out on fishing trips.
In his portrait Curonian Bride Pechstein demonstrates wonderful attention to the intricate details of the traditional wedding dress, depicting the sitters head dress and jewellery with incredibleaccuracy. Stylistically, Pechstein’s quick and feathery brush strokes still draw heavily on Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cézanne, Bernhard Fulda and Aya Soika, however, place the present portrait as an important stylistical milestone within the artist’s œuvre: 'His preoccupation with light and its reflections, as evident on the girl’s cheekbones and on her sleeves, showed his indebtedness to the impressionist tradition. And yet his composition also showed many of the elements which he was going to develop further in subsequent months, in particular the build-up of tensions between boldly rendered planes of starkly contrasting colours, and the emphasis placed on contours' (Bernhard Fulda & Aya Soika, Max Pechstein: The Rise and Fall of Expressionism, Berlin, 2012, p. 75).