Friesenhäuser II

 Painter: Emil Nolde
Dimensions: 65 x 82 cm
Signature: ‘Emil Nolde’ (left under): “Friesenhäuser” II
Technics: Oil on canvas



This painting by the German expressionist Emil Nolde shows how widespread the expressionist style was in Europe and how painters in this style - fundamentally looking at the visible and invisible reality - led to results that are very similar to our Brabant artists. Without exaggeration and without knowing the name of the artist, one could almost assume that this image is a work of for example Peter van den Braken. For comparison, see the early Brabant farms, a number of which are included in the collection.

The painting was auctioned in 2011 at Christies in London for the sum of (converted) approximately 2 million euros. Nolde made this work in 1910, which is just before the period of artistic activity of Peter van den Braken. He started painting and making woodcuts around 1918. Undoubtedly, Van den Braken - with Vincent van Gogh as a reciprocal link - was influenced by the French Expressionists and Fauvists. Dutch painters who then worked in the Parisian artistic environment, such as the modernists Jan Sluijters and Cees van Dongen, were also under French influence. And no less was the case with the German Expressionists, such as Nolde. Of course, most other Dutch painters were not open to modernism. That is why Peter van den Braken can certainly be seen as one of the pioneers of the developments in painting in the Netherlands. And that is not just an a posteriori observation. Even at that time - around 1920 - the art world took this position. Van de Braken had immediate success in galleries in Amsterdam and The Hague. Every now and then modernist works from that time pop up in the 'Randstad', the most densely populated part of the Netherlands.

In Nolde's work, just like in the Brabanders, a religious mood is present. It penetrates deeply into his expressionism. With the artists from Brabant this becomes visible in churches in the landscape or farms and farmers, respectively dressed as houses of worship and saints. But especially in the morally religious mood of their work, it crowns their innovative expressionist, semi-fauvist approach. Makes her credible. They have seized on that style, gradually and more deeply renewing their art to reinforce their theme.

I note that the Brabant artists absolutely did not want to be part of an intellectual elite. Their wish was the same as Van Gogh's: to live among the people, to be part of it. Art for them was a form of solidarity in the spirit of Christ. The focus was on the poverty of, and admiration for, the bravely lived fate of peasant people.

Then the depicted painting by Nolde. The sky, the road and the passers-by form a colorful, swirling stream. They are swept in a curve towards the narrow opening of the horizon. Both are on their way to a higher, spiritual and dramatic redemption or liberation. The painting gives an image of change in time to which the visible is subject. Warm, spontaneous and colorful movement of living reality as a whole.

This work is part of a series of Friesenhäuser that Nolde made. Each with its own Roman letter. See the Product Gallery.