Emil Nolde German, 1867-1956


Emil Nolde  was one of the first Expressionists, a member of Die Brücke. He is known for his bold brushwork and expressive choice of colors. He his well known for his watercolour works and his predilection for floral compisitions.


Emil Nolde initially trained as an industrial woodcarver and began drawing and painting only at the age of twenty-one. He worked in factories in Munich, Berlin and Karlsruhe, before taking up a position teaching drawing and ornamental modelling at the Gewerbemuseum in St Gallen, Switzerland. During that time, he painted watercolours of landscapes and portraits and learned lithography. Two of his lithographs of mountain scenes were turned into postcards and published in the German Art Nouveau periodical Die Jugend in 1894. Encouraged by this initial success, he decided to devote more of his time to painting and in 1899 he resigned from his teaching position. Rejected by the Fine Arts Academy of Munich, he spent nine months in Paris between 1899 and 1900, during which he attended various private art schools, including the Académie Julian. Back in Germany, he worked alone and in deep poverty, before finally exhibiting his paintings in Dresden in 1906, gaining the attention of members of the art group Die Brücke, which he briefly joined. Nolde left Dresden in 1907, though he was not only much older than the other members of the association, he had a much richer career behind him, not to mention a more solitary nature.

Nolde continued to work alone, while remaining in constant contact with innovative artistic circles and participated in the second exhibition of the Blaue Reiter in 1912.

In 1909–1910 he painted many Christian and biblical scenes noted for their tragic yet sensual pathos. In 1913–1914, he joined a scientific expedition to New Guinea.

In the years that followed the war , Nolde’s mature style varied little, his bold line and intense colour contrasts became more pronounced. From the second half of the 1920s he painted numerous watercolours of flowers. Nolde’s paintings, like those of all the Expressionists, were denounced by the Nazis as ‘degenerate art’ and confiscated.