Sale: 530 / Evening Sale / The Hermann Gerlinger Collection, June 10. 2022 in Munich Lot 63

 

63
August Macke
Mädchen mit blauen Vögeln (Kind mit blauen Vögeln), 1914.
Oil on canvas
Estimate:
€ 2,000,000 / $ 1,980,000
Sold:
€ 2,545,000 / $ 2,519,550

(incl. surcharge)
Mädchen mit blauen Vögeln (Kind mit blauen Vögeln). 1914.
Oil on canvas.
Heiderich 586. Signed and dated on the reverse. 60 x 82.3 cm (23.6 x 32.4 in). [CH].

• Subsequent to the journey to Tunisia in April 1914, the artist made some of his most important works (3 of 4 of the to date highest prices were realized for paintings from this specific year).
• Today similar works can be found at the Kunstmuseum Bonn, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at the Saint Louis Art Museum.
• The painting "Mädchen mit blauen Vögeln" was referred to as a highlight in the artist's oeuvre by his contemporaries.
• It was one of the last five paintings the artist made in July 1914, shortly before mobilization.
• Only two months later August Macke died in battle in the Champagne on September 16, 1914.
• Discovery: The wanly varnished reverse side shows "Drei Frauen am Tisch" from 1912.
• Family-owned for nearly 100 years.
• Over the past twenty years only one comparable work was offered on the international auction market
.

PROVENANCE:
Artist's estate / Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke (until 1928).
Collection Dr. Erich Raemisch, Krefeld / Berlin / Freiburg i. B. (acquired from the above in 1928 through the agency of Ferdinand Möller -1958).
Collection Ellen Raemisch, Freiburg i. B. (inherited from the above in 1958).
Ever since family-owned.

EXHIBITION:
Das junge Rheinland, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne 1918.
August Macke - Heinrich Nauen. Gemälde, Graphik, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover, April 10 - May 12, 1918, cat. no. 31 (titled "Kind mit blauen Vögeln" and the note "unverkäuflich"[not for sale]).
August Macke, Gesellschaft für Literatur und Kunst (Dramatischer Verein), Städtisches Museum Villa Obernier, Bonn 1918.
Neue Rheinische Maler, Kunstmuseum Bonn, December 1920.
August Macke, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Museum, Krefeld, July to August 1924, Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster 1924/1925, Magdeburg 1924/1925, Gesellschaft der Freunde junger Kunst, Brunswick 1925.
August Macke - Commemorative Exhibition (Works from the artist's estate). Gemälde, Aquarelle, Graphik, Kunstverein Jena, October 18 - November 25, 1925.
Spring exhibition 1928, Galerie Ferdinand Moeller, Berlin 1928, cat. no. 33 (with the title "Kind mit blauen Vögeln").
Deutsche Kunst unserer Zeit, Städtisches Museum, Überlingen, October 20 - November 11, 1945.
August Macke. Commemorative Exhibition, Museen der Stadt Köln in der Alten Universität, Cologne, June to July 1947, cat. no. 53.
August Macke, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, December 4, 1953 - February 1, 1954, cat. no. 76.
Zeugnisse europäischer Gemeinsamkeit. Meisterwerke der Malerei und Plastik aus europäischen Museen und Privatsammlungen, Städtische Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, Ruhrfestspiele, June 18 - July 30, 1954, cat. no. 138.
August Macke 1887-1914, Kunsthaus Zürich, April 24 - May 30, 1954, cat. no. 69.
Hundred Years of German Painting 1850-1950, Tate Gallery, London, April 25 - June 10, 1956, cat. no. 132.
August Macke. Gedenkausstellung zum 70. Geburtstag, Westfälischer Kunstverein, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster, January 27 - March 24, 1957, cat. no. 109.
August Macke, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, July 6 - September 16, 1962, cat. no. 164.
August Macke und die frühe Moderne in Europa, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster, November 18, 2001 - February 17, 2002, Kunstmuseum Bonn, March 14 - June 2, 2002, cat. no. 173, p. 95 (with illu., no. 5, p. 96 and with color illu., pp. 99 and 329).

LITERATURE:
Walter Cohen, Rezension zur Ausstellung "Neue Rheinische Maler" in Bonn, in: Kunstchronik und Kunstmarkt: Wochenschrift für Kenner und Sammler, issue 11, December 11, 1920, p. 210.
Walter Cohen, Eine August Macke-Ausstellung in Crefeld, in: Der Cicerone. Halbmonatsschrift für die Interessen des Kunstforschers & Sammlers, 16.1924, pp. 728f.
Der Cicerone: Halbmonatsschrift für die Interessen des Kunstforschers & Sammlers, 17.1925, p. 381.
Albrecht Kranoldt, Kunstverein Jena, Gedächtnisausstellung für August Macke, in: Das Volk, November 3, 1925.
Correspondence between Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke and Ferdinand Möller (Galerie Ferdinand Möller) regarding her husband's estate, Berlin-Neu-Tempelhof, 1928, estate Ferdinand Möller, Berlinische Galerie, BG-GFM-C, III, 1, 1166, l. 3.
Gustav Vriesen, Der Maler August Macke, in: Westfalen, Hefte für Geschichte, Kunst und Volkskunde, vol. 30, issue 1, Münster 1952 (with color illu., no. 30).
Édition Cahiers d'art, 13e année, Paris 1938, p. 17 (with illu.).
Letter from Ferdinand Möller to Erich Raemisch, 20.6.1947, Nachlass Ferdinand Möller, Berlinische Galerie, BG-GFM-C,II 2,667.
Gustav Vriesen, August Macke, Stuttgart 1953, cat. no. 498, p. 162 (with full-page color illu., p. 167).
Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke, Erinnerung an August Macke, Stuttgart 1962, p. 245.
Janice Mary McCullagh, August Macke and the Vision of Paradise: An Iconographic Analysis (diss.), Austin (Texas) 1980 (with illlu., no. 115, p. 258).
Ursula Heiderich, August Macke. Zeichnungen aus den Skizzenbüchern, Stuttgart 1986, p. 42 (with illu., no. 38, p. 41).
Ursula Heiderich, August Macke. Die Skizzenbücher, Stuttgart 1987, pp. 57f. (with illu., no. 45, p. 58).
Wolfgang Stadler, August Macke. Er gab der Farbe den hellsten Klang (24 paintings), Freiburg [et al] 1987, p. 37 (with color illu, no. 18, p. 39).
Hans-Dieter Mück (editor), Rückkehr der Moderne. Die erste Nachkriegs-Ausstellung verfemter deutscher Kunst 1945-1995, Überlingen 1995, pp. 46, 52, 291 (with illu. on p. 48).
Erich Franz, "Die Bewegung, die im Beschauer erregt wird". Bild und Wahrnehmung bei August Macke, in: Ursula Heiderich and Erich Franz (editors), ex. cat. August Macke und die frühe Moderne in Europa, Ostfildern 2001, p. 11.
Ursula Heiderich, August Macke und die frühe moderne in Europa, in: Ursula Heiderich und Erich Franz (editor), ex. cat. August Macke und die frühe Moderne in Europa, Ostfildern 2001, pp. 95f. (with illu.).
Eva Moser, Überlingen 1945 - deutsche Kunst unserer Zeit. Die erste Nachkriegs-Ausstellung verfemter Kunst im deutschen Südwesten, in: Landesstelle für Museumsbetreuung Baden-Württemberg (editor), Neuordnungen, Tübingen 2002, p. 67 (with illu. no. 7).
Erik Stephan (editor), August Macke, Cuno Amiet. booklet accompanying the exhibition at the Städtische Museen Jena, Jena 2007, p. 278.
Christoph Bauer (editor), Walter Kaesbach. Mentor der Moderne, Lengwil am Bodensee 2008, p. 51.
Ursula Heiderich, August Macke. Gemälde (catalog raisonné), Ostfildern 2008, cat. no. 586, pp. 532f. (with illu. on p. 279).
Ursula Heiderich, August Macke. Der hellste und reinste Klang der Farbe, Ostfildern 2008, pp. 131, 136 (with illu. on p. 135).
Margarethe Jochimsen and Hildegard Reinhardt (editors), Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke. Tagebücher Mai 1905-März 1948, Bielefeld 2021, pp. 151, 532.

"'Der lesende Mann im Park' (..), 'Die Spaziergänger', 'Das Mädchen mit blauen Vögeln' are not only highlights of Macke's creation, but also of German art of the historic year 1914."

Art historian, collector and curator Walter Cohen, 1924.

"August Macke's 'Lesender Mann', as well as the 'Kind mit blauen Vögeln' and the adorable colorful 'Blumenteppich' are among those pictures from the artist (..) that we'd prefer to be on display in German museums."
Walter Cohen, 1920.

"I have been looking for a way to express the yearning for the lost paradise for some time now. I think I managed quite well."
August Macke to Elisabeth Gerhardt, his later wife, as early as in June 1905.

"It was as if he was working in a frenzy, a fever, in order to paint as much of what he had planned to achieve. To name but a few: There wre the two still lifes with the bouquet of gladiola, begonia with apple and pear, two versions of the 'Kinder am Hafen', the Duisburg harbor, the big house in the park, 'Spaziergang zu Dreien', 'Frauen im Zoologischen', 'Landschaft mit Kühen und Kamel', 'Kind mit blauen Vögeln', 'Lesender Mann im Park' and the 'Große Mädchen unter Bäumen', which was the last on the easel."
Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke about her husband's last works, in: Erinnerung an August Macke, Stuttgart 1962, p. 245.

"All of the visitors recall the special magic of the Macke picture 'Mädchen mit blauen Vögeln'".
Eva Moser, in: Hans-Dieter Mück (editor), Rückkehr der Moderne. Die erste Nachkriegs-Ausstellung verfemter deutscher Kunst 1945-1995, Überlingen 1995, p. 46.

"Hardly any other of Macke's paintings emanates such a lyrical atmosphere."
Ursula Heiderich, in: August Macke. Der hellste und reinste Klang der Farbe. Ostfildern 2008, p. 136.

August Macke's "Kind mit blauen Vögeln" – a profound masterpiece

Back in Bonn after his return from the joyful journey to Tunisia with Paul Klee and Louis Moilliet at the end of April 1914, and after a few days in Hilterfingen on Lake Tun and in Kandern in the Black Forest, August Macke painted a series of paintings with a magic appeal in the last few days before the mobilization on August 1st. He made pictures with a color composition that shows a significantly different lighting than it is the case with the artist´s previous works, in which Macke realized this obvious and mysterious transcendence with a perhaps even reduced palette. There are, for example, the pictures "Mädchen unter Bäumen" (Girls under Trees), "Rotes Haus mit sonnendurchflutetem Park" (Red House with sun-flooded Park), "Lesender Mann im Park" (Man reading in the park) and this very painting "Kind mit blauen Vögeln" (Child with blue birds). This child, who wanders about in a dreamy, paradisiacal "enchanted forest" where she encounters phantasmagorical blue-plumaged birds, seems to have been lifted into another world in dreamy slow motion.

Magic harmonies
Macke had been occupied with the color contrast that can be observed here for quite some time. On February 12, 1914, he wrote from Hilterfingen to the painter Hans Thuar, a childhood friend: "I have discovered the following new aspect in painting. There are color combinations, lets say a certain red and green, that move and flicker when you look at them. If you, for instance, see a tree in front of a landscape, you can either look at the tree or at the landscape; you can't do both at the same time, because of the stereoscopic effect. If you paint something spatial, the flickering color is a spatial color effect, and if you paint a landscape and the green foliage flickers a little in front of the translucent blue sky, that's because the green is on a different level, also in nature, than the sky. Finding the color’s space-forming energies, instead of just settling with a dead chiaroscuro, is our most beautiful goal” (quoted from: August Macke, Briefe an Elisabeth und die Freunde, Munich 1987, p. 319).
And that's exactly how Macke uses the strong yellow in our painting, he lets it illuminate the grass-covered ground like bright light shining from overhead spotlights, reflecting back onto the green foliage. Magical, like on a theater stage, the artist immerses the tree trunks in violet light. Incidentally, as Ursula Heiderich has asserted, these clearly outlined trees testify to Macke's intensive occupation with Leonardo da Vinci, whose form inventions the young painter approached in his sketchbooks (Ursula Heiderich, August Macke. Zeichnungen aus den Skizzenbüchern, Stuttgart 1986, p. 41f. ).
The acknowledged art historian Erich Franz aptly describes the mysterious, harmonious interplay of forms and colors in "Kind mit blauen Vögeln" contrasting it with Macke's painting "Modegeschäft" (Fashion Store) from 1913: "In the picture "Modegeschäft" all colors are clearly separated from one another and the surfaces are divided. The painting 'Mädchen mit blauen Vögeln' […], on contrary, shows a largely different "style". The colors smoothly blend into one another, the forms are mostly rounded. The colors seem rather restrained; a bright red is missing. Macke would say the picture was created from a different "sensitivity". Again, it's all about grouping and attributing in this work, too. But there's nothing that has a subdividing function, instead the brown-violet trees with their far-reaching branches, the softly glowing yellow and its soft transitions to green, the harmonious distribution of light and dark, the encounter of girl and birds - all of this comes together in a slowly unfolding affection and conflation. Even the exotic and cool blue of the birds partly reappears in the green which emerges from the bright yellow in a cloudy fusion. Despite all the tender intangibility, there is a slight hint of spatial depth, above all through the overlapping of the trees on the left and the birds on the right. From this color space, the luminous yellow, the solidifying tree forms, the glassy blue of the birds and the brightness of the girl emerge as a gentle shimmer" (Erich Franz, in: ex, cat. August Macke und die frühe Moderne in Europa, Ostfildern 2001, p. 11).

The quest for the lost paradise
Even in purely stylistic terms - in harmony, roundness, accord - the core idea of "Kind mit blauen Vögeln" is revealed: Paradise. In this Garden of Eden unity prevails, not conflict, a gentle, almost primeval interplay of man and nature becomes perceptible. And Macke also borrowed the world of motifs from the iconography of paradise: as early as in the late 15th century, northern Alpine painting often relocated the biblical Garden of Eden to densely forested areas and inhabited it with an abundant fauna. Birds, in particular, which are associated with a strong symbolic value in Christian art, traditionally play an important role in these "paradise forests". August Macke was most certainly familiar with iconic representations of this motif, such as Jan Brueghel the Younger's 'Paradise Picture', a version of which can also be found in the State Museums in Berlin. The idea of paradise is the key leitmotif in August Macke's work, especially in the last years of his life (cf. the exhibition catalog for "Das (verlorene) Paradies. Expressionistische Visionen zwischen Tradition und Moderne" at the August Macke Haus in Bonn in 2014/15, and the book accompanying the exhibition "August Macke. Paradies! Paradies?" at Museum Wiesbaden 2020/21).
From an early point on, initially still close to Christian tradition, Macke was occupied with the depiction of paradise. "I've been thinking for a long time about expressing the longing for paradise lost. I think I have succeeded to some extent”, Macke wrote to Elisabeth Gerhardt, his wife to be, in June 1905 (August Macke, Briefe an Elisabeth und die Freunde, Munich 1987, p. 52). The young painter illustrated the handwritten letter with a sketch showing his intimately united grandparents leaving paradise.
The idea of ??paradise can be traced from this early point on all the way to his last paintings. In concrete terms, the idea became manifest in his examination of the subject of Adam and Eve with a Renaissance-like clarity in 1910, or, in a particular striking manner, in the four-meter tall picture "Das Paradies", which Macke painted together with his dear friend Franz Marc on a wall of his studio in 1912. These works show how intensively Macke dealt with the pictorial traditions and the world of ideas revolving around paradise.

Dreamt daily paradise
In many cases, however, August Macke lets his very personal Garden of Eden – and this is characteristic of his work – merge which (apparent) everyday scenes. It is often the strollers in sunny parks or zoological gardens, wandering about a world of leisure, beauty and relaxed contemplation, with which he expresses his version of paradise. This is made clear by the exclusion of everything burdening, the daily grind – work, toil, and sorrow, of dramatic events and social realities, shortly before the outbreak of the First World War. It is a quiet, defined world in which Macke paints his family in the well-groomed garden in Bonn, far away from the daily hustle and bustly of the busy road 'Bornheimer Straße' right behind the wall. It is an idealized world, like in the 1911 'Blauer Reiter' painting "Indianer auf Pferden" (Indians on Horses), which shows his deep sense of immersion in nature's rhythms. Accordingly, the zoological garden, which Macke transforms into a modern urban paradise, replaces the Garden of Eden on Earth.
Macke dreams the dream of a perfect, paradisiacal world in many his pictures, and the power of the dream becomes the key to his work. Macke's letters and drawings repeatedly provide account of his dreams. The ever-recurring dream of paradisiacal unity with nature, the unification of the outside world with the individual's inner nature. That is why the atmosphere in Macke's pictures is often characterized by something dreamy, motionlessness prevails in many works, and the figures appear to be lost in reverie. They are observers, too, often with their heads lowered and their eyes closed, conveying the impression of a meditative state. In 1905, the young theater lover Macke read "The World as Will and Representation” by Arthur Schopenhauer. "He speaks about dreams in a very interesting way," Macke reported to Elisabeth Gerhardt from Kandern on September 9, 1905 (August Macke, Briefe an Elisabeth und die Freunde, Munich 1987, p. 70).

An Arcadian allegory
The dreamy also plays a prominent role in "Kind mit blauen Vögeln”. In terms of motif, however, it is quite different from Macke's earlier visions of paradise. In this work the artist paints neither a "Christian" paradise scene nor the "everyday paradise" of a park or zoo with fashionably dressed strollers. In a juxtaposition of "Kind mit blauen Vögeln” with the compositionally similar triptych for the zoological garden, we immediately notice the completely different, newly conceived idea of paradise. In "Kind mit blauen Vögeln", August Macke pursues a new path to his personal vision of paradise.
A mysterious, even magical impression is what Macke's "Kind mit blauen Vögeln" leaves behind. What kind of scene is this anyway? The girl appears to have come out of a small white house, which we see in the exact middle of the picture's upper margin. Interestingly, the house does not disturb nature at all. It has stepped out of the building into a true fairytale forest. Magical light shimmers through the trees' dense foliage, the violet trunks sort of structure the picture in an almost abstract way. Two exotic blue birds live in this this forest, and the girl enters into a gentle interaction with one of the animals: she holds her cupped hand out to the bird, looks down at its content, and the bird does as the child. Through a deliberate overlapping of the scene from the picture's lower margin, Macke leaves the question as to whether the child actually feeds the bird, or whether there is some kind of magic bond between human and animal, unanswered. In any case, this silent dialog between child and animal is touching, a mute, dreamlike understanding.
It is the connection between two actually conflicting worlds that August Macke - taking up a common philosophical train of thought - makes the subject of this painting: culture and nature. The child and the house, both in the same shades of orange, white and pink, are representatives of culture. However, the child - and only the child - can succeed in establishing a paradisiacal connection with nature, with its innocent nativeness, and become a part of it. With the protective heart-shaped, arched branch that the big tree stretches over the child and the birds, flora also seals this intimate connection.
What is reflected in "Kind mit blauen Vögeln" is the idea of childhood as a paradisiacal primal state in which man is still pure, primitive and unspoiled. A "childhood paradise" - that's what the artist's widow calls this picture.
Against this background, the historical title of the painting, "Kind mit blauen Vögeln" (Child with blue birds) has to be preferred to the title "Mädchen mit blauen Vögeln" (Girl with Blue Birds) as used in the catalog raisonné (which can only be attested to a few cases before 1945).

Macke's romantic confession picture
In letters, August Macke sometimes mentions symbolistic, Art Nouveau and neo-Romanticist literature from around 1900 that he read and which deeply moved him, because it largely ignores social reality and avoids political and moral implications, while emphasizing the literary form, addressing historical and religious contents, as well as turning to the creation of fairy tales and dreams instead. The influence of these movements on the artist's work is known to Macke research - but this closeness, especially to Art Nouveau, rarely emerges with such depth and intensity as in the work "Kind mit blauen Vögeln". Macke seems to have been touched by the mystical melancholy of Heinrich Vogeler's fabulous pictorial worlds even more than by the Arcadian visions of Ludwig von Hoffmann.

A modern fairytale
Macke does not only refer to the modern neo-Romanticism of Art Nouveau, but also to the "primal romanticism" of the 19th century in this work. From a purely atmospheric point of view, there is a clear echo of the romantic fairytale illustrations by Ludwig Richter. In concrete terms, it is his (blonde) "Schneewittchen” (Snow White), who in the solitude of the forest, surrounded by gentle melancholy and inwardness, lets the shy deer eat from her apron. In terms of motifs and composition, the obvious proximity of Richter's "Schneewittchen" to Macke's "Kind mit blauen Vögeln" may seem surprising at a first glance, but it becomes obvious at a second glance. Richter's motif was extremely popular and so widespread, for example through art postcards, that it became part of the collective visual memory of generations. The respective watercolor from 1869 was shown in the art literature of the time (such as in Die Kunst für alle, Vol. 18, 1902-1903, p. 582) and also reproduced in color several times. The art magazine "Der Kunstwart”, for example, published several "Richter portfolios” as of 1900, and in 1906 "Schneewittchen” was also released here as a de-luxe edition in color, advertised as "a reproduction of the famous watercolor in the Berlin National Gallery”. In 1913, when "Der Kunstwart” had reached its widest distribution with a print run of 22,000 issues, the sheet was explicitly recommended as a gift for children (Der Kunstwart, February 19, 1906, p. 326, and January 27, 1913, p. 359 ).
Owing to this popularity, August Macke was most certainly familiar Richter's picture "Schneewittchen", both as artist and as a loving husband and father. Accordingly, at a second glance it doesn't seem surprising at all that the expressionist conceived his very own version of a magical "forest animal feeding" in "Kind mit blauen Vögeln" based on Richter's romantic "Schneewittchen". This quintessentially remarkable connection, once again shows how August Macke, with great intellectual openness, took up the most diverse inspirations, even from "popular culture”, and transformed them into something entirely his own.
Last but not least, it should be mentioned in this context that even the core idea of ??Macke's "Kind mit blauen Vögeln" is close to Richter's famous pictorial invention. Because the painter of Romanticism depicts a very specific scene from the fairy tale: Snow White's friendship with the forest animals. The girl, threatened with death, finds salvation in paradisiacal nature. It is not difficult to transfer this comforting thought to Macke's personal situation in the fateful year 1914.

The blue birds
However, Macke's girl doesn't feed deer or other real forest dwellers, but rather exotic, imaginative blue birds. These beings characterize paradise. Birds are classic inhabitants of paradise anyway, and their blue plumage suggests infinity, a color symbolism that already became manifest in, for example, the romantic "Blue Flower”.
But these blue birds are not pure fictitious creatures, as there is the species of the "blue crane" that can be found in South Africa. Interestingly, these blue cranes are called "paradise cranes". Macke, the frequent zoo guest and Africa traveler, may have been familiar with this species. The crane has its traditional place as a symbol in representations of paradise. The animal embodies prudence and vigilance, virtues that seemed to be more important than ever on the eve of the world war.
For August Macke, however, another reference is more important. Because the crane is a typical Japanese motif, widespread in Japanese woodcut art. August Macke worships "the Japanese”. (Cf. Die Maler des "Blauen Reiter" und Japan: "... these tender, witty fantasies...", Murnau 2011, esp. pp. 75-79, 96-98, and Ursula Heiderich in: ex. cat. August Macke und die frühe Moderne in Europa, Ostfildern 2001, pp. 54–61)
Like many of his contemporaries, the young expressionist felt drawn to Japanese art and culture. Since 1907 he had been intensively occupied with Japanese traditions, listening to lectures, visiting exhibitions, educating himself through publications and discussions about the exotic that is yet perceived as spiritual kinship. And Macke owns 18 volumes of original woodcuts by Hokusai, including his template sheets, the famous "Manga" - a gift from his patron Bernhard Koehler, his wife's uncle. Naturally, this work also includes sheets with cranes.
The motif of the Japanese crane kept Macke occupied. In his "Skizzenbuch nach Hokusai" (Sketchbook after Hokusai) he tried to draw the crane in the style of Hokusai with just a single stroke of the ink brush; and in 1913/14 he began to work on a poster for the 'Jenaer Kunstverein' for which he chose a crane that he developed from a Japanese porcelain decor.
Macke, who had immersed himself so deeply in Japanese culture, was surely aware of the crane's meaning and significance in Japan. It is the symbol of a long, happy life. Carl Munzinger, for example, reported on this in his "Japan und die Japaner" (Japan and the Japanese), the third edition was published as early as in 1906: Among the Japanese animals said to have great 'magic' powers, there are also some "which have a good symbolic appearance; tortoise and crane, for instance, stand for a long life” (Stuttgart edition 1906, p. 91). This may also explain why Macke chose the blue paradise crane for "Kind mit blauen Vögeln". For what more than a long, happy life could the painter have wished for on the eve of the war?

A historic painting
"Der lesende Mann im Park (Man reading in the park) [...], Die Spaziergänger (The Strollers), Das Mädchen mit blauen Vögeln (Girl with blue birds) are not only highlights of Macke's creation of this year, but of German art of 1914 in general."
Walter Cohen, "Eine August Macke Ausstellung in Krefeld", in: Der Cicerone 16.1924, p. 729.
Whenever we look at the picture "Kind mit blauen Vögeln” we are taken back to the year it was painted, 1914, on the eve of the First World War. When August Macke painted this picture at the age of 27, he suspected that he might not return from this war, that he will not be able to continue his artistic work. He threw himself into a work frenzy, pouring his whole soul into his last pictures, which he probably also felt to become his legacy.
"After his return [from the trip to Tunisia] he had thrown himself into a work frenzy. At the same time, some of the most important pictures of his oeuvre were in the studio. Seventeen oil paintings were created in Hilterfingen (apart from watercolors and drawings). He finished two of them in Bonn. Over just a few weeks he made thirty-six pictures, many of them very different from one another; it is almost inconceivable how such a large number of pictures of the best quality could be made. It was as if he was working in a frenzy, a fever, in order to achieve as much as possible of what he had defined as his goal. To name just a few: there were the two still lifes with a bouquet of gladioli, "Begonia with Apple and Pear", two versions of "Children at the Harbour", "Duisburg Harbor", the big red "House in the Park", "Three Strollers", "Women at the Zoo", "Landscape with Cows and Camel", "Child with Blue Birds", "Man Reading in the Park" and the large "Girls under Trees", which was the last on the easel," remembers Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke in "Erinnerung an August Macke " (Frankfurt am Main 1987, p. 318).
These last paintings, which August Macke - the cheerful Sunday's child – created foreboding his own end, have an unexpected depth, melancholy and emotional strength. This is expressed in "Kind mit blauen Vögeln” as it is his account of a heartfelt wish for a long life in paradisiacal, innocent peace.
With the last paintings, the artist also seems to have liberated himself from influences he had grown fond of, such as the ideas of Robert Delaunay, whom he highly valued and with whom he was in close contact, and, of course, from Franz Marc, his alter ego and close friend since 1910. In the last pictures mentioned here, August Macke shows his colorist skills, his natural talent to invent mysterious pictorial spaces.
August Macke died in Perthes-lès-Hurlus in Champagne on September 26, 1914.

1914 to 1928
"Kind mit blauen Vögeln” remained in Macke's estate, which his widow Elisabeth took over, until 1928. She writes her memoirs, takes care of the estate and regularly furnishes exhibitions with works from the estate. Elisabeth does a lot to make sure August Macke's work will be remembered long after his death. Admiringly, no lesser than Eberhard Grisebach wrote in the "Jenaer Volksblatt” of October 23, 1925 on the occasion of the 1925 Commemorative Exhibition in Jena, where "Kind mit blauen Vögeln” was also on display: "If you slowly wander through the exhibition and get an impression of it as a whole, one senses an idea of unity and believes to have grasped an artist who has worked systematically, quietly and modestly with an inner joie de vivre; you meet a person who has simply and elegantly followed his own way” (quoted from: Erik Stephan (editor), August Macke, Cuno Amiet, book accompanying the exhibition at the Jena City Museums, Jena 2007, p. 279) .
"Kind mit blauen Vögeln" is repeatedly mentioned with praise in reviews of its historical exhibitions. "Then there are a few more pictures from 1914, when he was at the peak of his creativity. Among them, the 'Dame mit grüner Jacke' (Lady with a green Jacket) and the "Mädchen mit blauen Vögeln are particularly noteworthy," wrote the renowned "Cicerone" on occasion of the 1924/25 memorial exhibition in Brunswick (Der Cicerone 17.1925, p. 381).
However, the first exhibition of "Kind mit blauen Vögeln” took place a few years earlier: in Cologne in early 1918, when World War I wasn't really over yet. Elisabeth notes in her journal: "This afternoon [...] sent the 36 pictures to Cologne" – having unpacked the pictures together with her artist friend Louise Koppel, she continues: "We looked at the "Kind mit den blauen Vögeln" (January 22, 1918, quoted from: Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke, Tagebücher Mai 1905–März 948, Bielefeld 2021, p. 151). She does not mention any of the other 35 pictures by name, only one: "Kind mit blauen Vögeln".
It is not surprising that the work is noted 'not for sale' in the catalog of the following exhibition at the Kestnergesellschaft in Hanover in the spring of 1918.
In 1920 an exhibition in Bonn followed, which remained unmentioned in the catalog raisonné and which was organized by the "Gesellschaft für Literatur und Kunst" (Society for Literature and Art). In "Kunstchronik" Walter Cohen wrote a review - and once again highlights "Kind mit blauen Vögeln": "[...] August Macke's "Lesender Mann", as well as the "Kind mit blauen Vögeln" and the truly enchanting "Blumenteppich" (Carpet of Flowers) are among those pictures by the artist, who recently received long-deserved posthumous success at the Frankfurt memorial exhibition, which one would most like to see in German museums.” (Kunstchronik und Kunstmarkt, issue 11, December 11, 1920, p. 210).
But Macke's "Kind mit blauen Vögeln" found its way into a private collection. It is 1928, and an exhibition at the Ferdinand Möller gallery in Berlin had been planned. Elisabeth Macke, who married Macke's longtime friend Lothar Erdmann in 1916, still did not want to part with "Kind mit blauen Vögeln", and also had it labeled 'not for sale' in the exhibition at Ferdinand Möller Gallery. But the change of ownership still happened, and the work went into the best possible hands: the picture became part of the Raemisch Collection.

The Collection Erich Raemisch
In the same year in which the prominent Krefeld lawyer, businessman, political functionary and, last but not least, art collector Erich Raemisch acquired "Kind mit blauen Vögeln", the "Cicerone" wrote about an Alfred Flechtheim exhibition richly equipped with loans from private collections: "It is amazing and gratifying to see the enthusiasm, love and artistic understanding with which modern art is collected in the Rhineland. Düsseldorf, Cologne, Elberfeld and Krefeld are the main centers. The collectors general director Nothmann, Josef Gottschalk and Alfred Wolff in Düsseldorf, general director Alfred Tietz in Cologne, the barons von der Heydt and Claus Gebhard in Elberfeld, Rudolf Ibach in Barmen and the Krefeldians Hermann Lange and Dr. Erich Raemisch, who are the greatest collectors of French Cubism in Germany, especially of Legers, made a number of their most interesting works available” (Der Cicerone, 20.1928, p. 674).
Erich Raemisch was just 32 years old at tat time, but he had already amassed a very impressive collection of progressive art. Raemisch was born the son of a master stonemason in Prenzlau, Brandenburg, on October 22, 1896. In 1922 he married the young widow Helene baroness Teuffel von Birkensee, known as Ellen, who brought three children into the marriage. He came into contact with the art scene primarily through Ellen, née Arnthal: her brother was the painter Eduard Arnthal, who also exhibited at Alfred Flechtheim's gallery; family ties to the famous collector and patron Eduard Arnhold also existed.
Raemisch, a lawyer and entrepreneur who was extremely successful in the silk industry, to which he gave many progressive impulses far beyond his branch, built up his important collection of modern art as of the 1920s. As a regular at, among others, Alfred Flechtheim, it was not difficult for him to select exceptional works of Modernism. The Raemisch Collection reflects the open and modern personality of its owner, a man deeply connected with the present: Artists such as Karl Hofer, Fernand Léger, Max Beckmann, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Georges Braque, August Macke and Paul Klee testify to both the progressive character of his collection, as well as to Raemisch's excellent network in the art scene - in Krefeld, Düsseldorf and the Rhineland, as well as in Berlin, where he lived and worked as director of the "Internationale Kunstseideverkaufsbüro GmbH" from 1931 on. In Berlin Raemisch was in close exchange with the artists of the "Bauhaus" and the "Werkbund", such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich. In 1927 the two realized the installation "Café Samt und Seide" for Raemisch at the fair "Die Mode der Dame" (Fashion for Ladies) in Berlin and in 1929 the "Deutsche Seide" at the epoch-making world exhibition in Barcelona. In the same year 1929, Raemisch became chairman of the "Vereinigung für Junge Kunst" (Association for Young Art) in Düsseldorf, for which he was active together with the art historian and Macke expert Walter Cohen and also with Walter Kaesbach, the director of the Düsseldorf Art Academy. He was also involved in the "Werkbund" and in the fall of 1931 he was even appointed second chairman alongside Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Raemisch was also a close friend of Hermann Lange, a silk manufacturer, too, and, alongside Raemisch, Krefeld's second big collector of progressive art.
And Erich Raemisch was also personally acquainted with Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke, as the Raemisch couple was friends with Elisabeth's sister-in-law Käthe Brie, the sister of her second husband Lothar Erdmann. On August 28, 1945, Elisabeth retrospectively noted in her diary: "At that time we also stayed a night at the Raemisch's (Kaete's friends) in Uhldingen and felt very comfortable" (Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke, Tagebücher Mai 1905 – März 1948, Bielefeld 2021, p. 530).
During the war, when times were hard, the Raemischs retreated to Unteruhldingen on Lake Constance. Ellen's brother Eduard had to flee from the National Socialists, and Erich Raemisch, who was "one quarter Jew" according to the National Socialist's racial theory, and his wife Ellen, who was of Jewish origin, too, escaped the concentration camp only through Arno Breker's intervention (National Archives and Records Administration, Ardelia Hall Collection, Breker, Arno (Sculptor) - Investigation And Denazification, p. 85). Over these dark years, Erich Raemisch was only able to preserve parts of his art collection: "Unfortunately, we were only able to save a part of our possessions, but at least a number of beautiful things. The rest remained in our house in Zehlendorf and may have perished in the meantime,” he wrote to Ferdinand Möller on July 23, 1947 (Ferdinand Möller estate, Berlinische Galerie, BG-GFM-C,II 2,668).
Despite the serious changes, Raemisch was able to build on past successes after the war. He now lived in Bad Soden and in Freiburg im Breisgau, where he had attended university, unfolding political impact as assistant interior secretary – and still had his finger on the pulse of the times, he advocated design questions and reform furniture. Raemisch was one of the founding members of the "German Design Council". The University of Freiburg promoted him to the rank of honorary senator in 1957. Erich Raemisch died on New Year's Eve 1958, just 62 years old. (On Erich Raemisch cf. Christiane Lange (editor), Bauhaus und Textilindustrie. Architektur, Design, Lehre, Munich et al. 2019, pp. 47f., 367f.).

"The Raemischs want to give August's lovely 'Kind mit blauen Vögeln' on loan" – the unparalleled exhibition in Überlingen in 1945
(Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke on 3 September, 1945, quoted from: Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke, Tagebücher Mai 1905–März 1948, Bielefeld 2021, p. 532)


After the war, "Kind mit blauen Vögeln" had its first big appearance in the show "Deutsche Kunst unserer Zeit" (German Art of Our Time) in 1945.
The aforementioned Walter Kaesbach, the great promoter of Expressionism, who faced an occupational ban during Nazi dictatorship that led him to a withdrawal into his inner self, planned nothing less than the return of Modernism to German cultural life in 1945 through a large exhibition under the self-confident title "Deutsche Kunst unserer Zeit". In the autumn of 1945, the exhibition took place in the Urban Museum in Überlingen, and Kaesbach's friend Erich Heckel contributed a woodcut that hopefully symbolized a new beginning, for the catalog's title. More than 150 top-class works of modern art, ostracized until 1945, had been compiled for the show. Even if the nationwide impact of the show was limited due to travel restrictions between the occupation zones that were still in effect in 1945, the importance of the exhibition "Deutsche Kunst unserer Zeit" for art history can't be emphasized enough (cf. Hans-Dieter Mück (ed.), Rückkehr der Moderne. Die erste Nachkriegs-Ausstellung verfemter deutscher Kunst 1945–1995, Überlingen 1995).
Erich Raemisch opened his collection for the great Walter Kaesbach, whom he knew since the 1920s. In addition to his Beckmann painting, he also gave "Kind mit blauen Vögeln” into the exhibition. Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke, who was living in Meersburg between 1945 and 1948, also came to the opening. She noted in her journal: "Yesterday, on Sunday, trip to Überlingen, where an extra boat took us to the opening of the exhibition [...] Lots of interesting things in the exhibition, daddy's "Kind mit blauen Vögeln" all alone on the wall, a resting point emanating strong glow and shine. What a dream world, like a childhood paradise, for which we feel a much stronger longing after these years of darkness, the wild chaos and the eternal threat and danger" (unpublished diary by Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke, October 2, 1945, archive of the August Macke Haus, Bonn, quoted from: Christoph Bauer (ed.), Walter Kaesbach – Mentor der Moderne, Lengwil am Bodensee 2008, p. 51). These personal, even intimate words once again illustrate how much the picture "Kind mit blauen Vögeln” meant to the artist's widow. May it will be just as meaningful to the new owner.

Reverse side: August Macke, Frauen am Tisch, 1912
"It was as if he was in a frenzy, a fever, in order to create as much of it as possible," recalled Elisabeth Macke once again in her memoirs of her husband. In this "frenzy" the artist also seemed to paint on the reverse side of canvases that had already been painted, as it is the case here, by making the motif unrecognizable with a primer in a few strong strokes of the brush and clearly marking the reverse side as "discarded" by placing the signature for the front side across it. Nevertheless, the scene in a room, that August Macke probably painted at his house and studio on Bornheimer Straße in 1912, still is slightly visible: Three female figures seated around a table, comparable to the "Drei Frauen am Tisch bei der Lampe" (Three women at the table with a lamp) from 1912. Elisabeth Macke remembers these sessions: "We, that's my grandmother, mother and I [Katharina Koehler, Sofie Gerhardt, née Koehler], were very busy with embroidery back then, according to August's drafts, which he sketched right onto the fabric, so that there are some that do not have any sketches [on paper] at all. In summer I was working on a large tapestry with the two bathing girls and the oriental youths (today it belongs to my son Wolfgang). We were all enthusiastic about the work, in particular my grandmother, who stayed up late every evening, wondering the next morning why her back hurt, she was nearing 80! She embroidered so accurately and neatly, just like my mother, who would still transfer patterns onto fabric years later.” (Frankfurt am Main 1987, p. 256) [MvL/AT]



63
August Macke
Mädchen mit blauen Vögeln (Kind mit blauen Vögeln), 1914.
Oil on canvas
Estimate:
€ 2,000,000 / $ 1,980,000
Sold:
€ 2,545,000 / $ 2,519,550

(incl. surcharge)