Sale: 535 / Evening Sale with Collection Hermann Gerlinger, Dec. 09. 2022 in Munich Lot 19

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
Rote Düne, 1913.
Oil on canvas
€ 800,000 / $ 864,000
€ 1,945,000 / $ 2,100,600

(incl. surcharge)
Rote Düne. 1913.
Oil on canvas.
Grohmann pp. 258/286. Signed and dated in right margin. Once more signed and titled "Rote Düne" as well as inscribed on the reverse. 65 x 74.5 cm (25.5 x 29.3 in).
• A special gem in the Collection Hermann Gerlinger.
• Characterized by a life-affirming vitality and the immediacy of sun, water and naked skin.
• A masterpiece in Karl Schmidt-Rottluff's oeuvre.
• Paintings of this quality are almost exclusively owned by museums around the world.
• On display at the then leading institution for contemporary art, the Museum Folkwang in Hagen, the year after it was made.
• Among the nude pictures from 1913, "Rote Düne" is the most monumental and clearest expression

The work is documented in the archive of the Karl and Emy Schmidt-Rottluff Foundation, Berlin.

PROVENANCE: Collection Felix Weise, Halle (from 1927 the latest until at least 1948).
Ruprecht Weise, Bruchsal (directly obtained from the above in 1956).
Frankfurter Kunstkabinett Hanna Bekker vom Rath, Frankfurt a. Main/Hofheim (Taunus) (from 1958 the latest until at least 1968).
Collection Hermann Gerlinger, Würzburg (with the collector's stamp, Lugt 6032).

EXHIBITION: Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Museum Folkwang, Hagen, March 1914.
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Gemälde [first solo show], Kunstverein Jena, July 1914, no. 12.
Kollektionen: Schmidt-Rottluff / Alexander Kanoldt / F.A. Weinzheimer / L.L. Wulf. Plastiken, Galerie Fritz Gurlitt, Berlin, April 16 - May 10, 1914, no. 27.
Special exhibition Schmidt-Rottluff, Galerie Ferdinand Möller, Berlin-Schöneberg, Dec. 1919-March 1920.
Galerie Ernst Arnold, Dresden, April 1927 (with illu. on p. 12).
Kunstmuseum Moritzburg, Halle an der Saale, October 1948.
Brücke 1905-1913, eine Künstlergemeinschaft des Expressionismus, Museum Folkwang, Essen, October 12 - December 14, 1958, no. 165.
Moderne Malerei aus Frankfurter Kunstbesitz, Frankfurt 1963, no. 127 (with illu. and on the cover).
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Gemälde, Aquarelle, Graphik, Kunstverein Hanover/Museum Folkwang, Essen/Frankfurter Kunstverein/Akademie der Künste, Berlin, November 17, 1963 - July 5, 1964, no. 40.
German Painting 1890-1918, Hermitage, Leningrad, May 25 - July 2, 1978; Pushkin Museum, Moscow, July 12 - August 27, 1978; Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt a.M., September 14 - November 12, 1978, no. 78 (with illu.).
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff zum 100. Geburtstag, Schleswig-Holsteinisches Landesmuseum, Schloss Gottorf, Schleswig, June 3 - August 12, 1984, cat. no. 20 (with illu.).
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Retrospektive, Kunsthalle Bremen, June 16 - September 10, 1989; Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, September 27 - December 3, 1989, cat. no. 129 (black-and-white illu., color plate 54).
Schleswig-Holsteinisches Landesmuseum, Schloss Gottorf, Schleswig (permanent loan from the Collection Hermann Gerlinger, 1995-2001).
Kunstmuseum Moritzburg, Halle an der Saale (permanent loan from the Collection Hermann Gerlinger, 2001-2017).
Die Brücke und die Moderne, 1904-1914, Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg, October 17, 2004 - January 23, 2005, cat. no. 142 (with illu.).
Im Rhythmus der Natur: Landschaftsmalerei der "Brücke". Meisterwerke der Sammlung Hermann Gerlinger, Städtische Galerie, Ravensburg, October 28, 2006 - January 28, 2007, p. 104 (with illu.).
Expressiv! Die Künstler der Brücke. Die Sammlung Hermann Gerlinger, Albertina Vienna, June 1 - August 26, 2007, cat. no. 31 (with illu.).
Unmittelbar und unverfälscht. Die "Brücke"-Maler und ihre Motive, Stiftung Moritzburg, Kunstmuseum des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt, Halle (Saale), October 13, 2013 - June 2014 (no cat.).
Buchheim Museum, Bernried (permanent loan from the Collection Hermann Gerlinger, 2017-2022).
Brückenschlag: Gerlinger – Buchheim!, Buchheim Museum, Bernried, October 28, 2017 - February 25, 2018, pp. 13, 192-193 (with illu.).
Schmidt-Rottluff. Form, Farbe, Ausdruck!, Buchheim Museum, Bernried, September 29, 2018 - February 3, 2019, pp. 196-197 (with illu.).
Unzertrennlich. Rahmen und Bilder der Brücke-Künstler, Brücke-Museum Berlin, November 16 - March 15, 2020; Buchheim Museum, Bernried, March 28 - July 5, 2020, p. 435 (with illu.).
Brücke und Blauer Reiter, Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal, November 21, 2021 - February 27, 2022; Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, March 27 - June 26, 2022; Buchheim Museum, Bernried, July 16 - November 13, 2022, p. 169 (with illu.).

LITERATURE: Botho Graef, Besprechung der Ausstellung von Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Jenaische Zeitung, July 29, 1914, 2nd issue, p. 2.
Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Leipzig 1920, illu. 6.
Will Grohmann, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Stuttgart 1956, p. 72, 258 (with illu.), 286.
Gerhard Wietek, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: Bilder aus Nidden, Stuttgart 1963, p. 17.
Eberhard Roters, Galerie Ferdinand Möller: die Geschichte einer Galerie für Moderne Kunst in Deutschland, 1917-1956, Berlin 1984, p. 43.
Gunther Thiem, Armin Zweite (ed.), Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Retrospektive, ex. cat. Kunsthalle Bremen / Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus München, Munich 1989, pp. 84f.
Heinz Spielmann (ed.), Die Maler der Brücke. Sammlung Hermann Gerlinger, Stuttgart 1995, pp. 366f., SHG no. 609 (with illu.).
Hermann Gerlinger, Katja Schneider (eds.), Die Maler der Brücke. Inventory catalog Collection Hermann Gerlinger, Halle (Saale) 2005, pp. 66f., SHG no. 120 (with illu.).
Katja Schneider (ed.), Moderne und Gegenwart. Das Kunstmuseum in Halle, Munich 2008, p. 113 (with illu.).
Hermann Gerlinger, Katja Schneider (ed.), Gemeinsames Ziel und eigene Wege. Die "Brücke" und ihr Nachwirken, Munich 2009, p. 35, illu. 1.
Sigrid Bertuleit (ed.), Meisterwerke der Portraitkunst, aus dem Gesamtbestand der bedeutenden Privatsammlung der Kunst des 19. Jahrhunderts, ex. cat. Museum Georg Schäfer, Schweinfurt, Schweinfurt 2010, p. 29.
Hans-Jürgen Lechtreck, Mario-Andreas von Lüttichau (eds.), Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Haus und Bäume, 1912, ex. cat. Museum Folkwang, Essen, Berlin 2012, pp. 45, 48, illu. 33.
Edition Logika (ed.), Kunstmuseum Moritzburg Halle (Saale), Malerei der Moderne, 1900 bis 1945, Munich 2017, illu. on p. 17 (exhibition view Kunstmuseum Moritzburg 1948).

"The picture grows out of inner necessities: a sensation of its strongest force is captured in colors and lines. [..] The people, who emerge from the forest’s darkness like blossoms, who enjoy themselves on the seashore, emanate the same collective power. [..] Whoever finds access to this world will be enraptured and overwhelmed, but will also feel the liberating power characteristic of great art, a power that goes beyond everything personal."

Dr. Rosa Schapire, in: Special exhibition Schmidt-Rottluff, Neue Kunst Hans Goltz, Munich, July 1917.

"But I would like to detach it [the erotic] from the fleetingness of the experience, to establish a relationship between the cosmic and the earthly moment. Perhaps one can say it is an eroticism heightened into the transcendental."

Schmidt-Rottluff to Gustav Schiefler in December 1913.

Breaks and Departures
While the year 1913 marked a decisive turning point in Schmidt-Rottluff's career, it also saw the continuation of artistic accomplishments. Since the formation of the "Brücke" group in Dresden in 1905, both his artist personality and the consolidation of his formal means of expression had made tremendous progress. By 1913, the artist was almost 30 years old and had attained a strong independent position – just like the other “Brücke“ members. The publication of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's very own views in particular and his claim to leadership in the "Brücke" chronicle ultimately caused its dissolution on May 27, 1913. However, the motifs continued to live on, and the nude in particular continued to be of great importance. Especially the summer stays at the Moritzburg Ponds near Dresden had led to an abundance of paintings with nudes and bathers at the group’s peak around 1909/10, before the members gradually moved to Berlin in 1911. At that time, painting nudes plein-air allowed for physcial experience and studies that went far beyond academic poses and bourgeois morale. A life-affirming vitality and immediacy of sun, wind and water on naked skin is clearly perceptible in these paintings, as well as a rejection of the swanky motifs of Impressionism. With the move to the big city of Berlin, other themes also took center stage. After the dissolution, each artist found his own summer residence, Kirchner and Müller on Fehmarn, Heckel in Osterholz.

Nida – "A strange region, that!"
A few days after the dissolution of the "Brücke", Schmidt-Rottluff traveled to Nida on the Curonian Spit and began a stay that can well be considered an extremely prolific creative period. The small remote fishing village on the Baltic Sea had already attracted Pechstein in 1909; and Schmidt-Rottluff followed his recommendation. Without his artist friend, Schmidt-Rottluff moved into the inn of the fisherman Martin Sakuth, where Pechstein had also stayed before. It was one of the last houses in the village located right on the harbor and in direct proximity to the gigantic wandering dunes and rugged pine forests that make the landscape so special. It must seem bizarre and strange, as Wilhelm von Humboldt wrote as early as in 1809: "The Curonian Spit is so unique that it is as much a must-see as Spain and Italy, if one does not want to miss a wonderful image in the soul." (quoted from: Gerhard Wietek, Bilder aus Nidden, Stuttgart 1963, p. 28). In this "strange region," as Schmidt-Rottluff noted in May 1913, he created a group of 30 paintings, and a number of drawings and woodcuts characterized by an outstanding stylistic harmony. He devoted a large part of these works to the nude, which, according to Pechstein, was well possible in this deserted area on the seaside, as it was unobserved by walkers and tourists. What becomes particularly obvious in the works from this year is the expressive self-confidence the artist had acquired.

Bodies in the Dunes

For the series of nudes created in the huge, deserted dunes of Nidden, Schmidt-Rottluff chose nearly square formats, as if a new calm, balance, and solidity were to become manifest in them. The titles he chose for the pictures were short and clear, archaically reduced like ciphers, summarizing the experience of the stay: "Sommer" (Sprengel Museum, Hanover) and “Rote Düne" (Red Dune) contain the light and warmth of these months. “Rote Düne" is the most monumental of these nudes from 1913, and the most clearly devised in terms of formal expression. Reduced to just two figures that take up more and more space in relation to the landscape and seem to position themselves oversized in the foreground in front of the dune landscape. The figure on the right hardly seems to fit into the picture and pushes itself forward to the edge of the picture, towards the viewers, who, through the choice of perspective, almost become part of the scene. The blue of the sky is pushed back to the uppermost corners, everything is sand, light and warmth, the human bodies embedded in it. The red of the summer is poured out over landscape and bodies, separated only by the black-green contour lines that give shape to the figures, not as volumes, but statuesque and in their tectonic movements, they echo the flatness and asperity of the woodcut. The figures’ unusual positions defy poses of an academic ideal of beauty. Instead, new physical aesthetics are created: the one figure bent over and crouching, the other rising up and turning. In the momentary nature of these transitional movements, the compactness of the surfaces creates a statuesque monumentality. In addition, the effect of the painting is based on the most intense contrast of the complementary colors red and green, however Schmidt-Rottluff modulates, brightens and takes them into another color spectrum: whitish nuances in the dunes, ocher tones in the right figure, greenish-black hair, red traces in the jagged green. The rough canvas, in dialogue with the loose, seemingly imprecise application of paint, also gives the surface an impression of immediacy and a tactile, sandy roughness.

Primal Nudity
Throughout art history, the human figure and the study of the human body repeatedly served the purpose of essential repositionings. They are an expression of the understanding of the body, proportions, the treatment of nudity, sexuality and eroticism. Particularly towards the end of the 19th century, the nude became increasingly detached from its mythological models of nymphs and goddesses, above all the representations of Venus. Nudity left Mount Olympus and was detabooed as a natural part of human existence and at the same time it was also desexualized. Cézanne, whose "Grandes Baigneuses" were shown at the Berlin Secession in 1909 and other works at the Cologne Sonderbund Exhibition in 1912, used the bodies in nature for formal experiments. Gauguin was shown at Galerie Arnold in Dresden in 1910, along with a "Brücke" exhibition; further exhibitions followed, in 1911 at Fritz Gurlitt's in Berlin and in Cologne in 1912. Pechstein was particularly fascinated by the intensive Tahiti paintings and the great calm of the voluminous bodies, whose nakedness is characterized by nativeness and naturalness. In 1914 Pechstein decided to go on a trip to the island of Palau, part of the German colonial territories of the South Seas. Schmidt-Rottluff, however, had already found his own 'South Sea' paradise on the remote peninsula in the Baltic Sea. His bathers and nudes alike spring from a conception in which body and nature or naturalness become one. Like organic growths from the dunes, he presents the female figures without individual characteristics and thus allows their bodies to become symbols of this understanding: "But I want to detach it [the erotic] from the fleetingness of the experience, to establish a relationship between the cosmic and the earthly moment. Perhaps one can say it is an eroticism heightened into the transcendental." (to Gustav Schiefler, Dec. 1913, quoted in: Gunter Thiem, Die Verwandlungen der Venus, Schmidt-Rottluff's Nude Drawings 1909-1913, Munich/Berlin 2003, p. 113).

Primitivism and Cult Paintings
The preoccupation with the nude reached its climax in Schmidt-Rottluff's works from the years 1913/14, especially through the series of paintings created in Nida. In terms of form, he had achieved an autonomy there in which new and own inspirations clearly emerge. The formal language and the mysterious aura of cultic efficacy of African sculpture had always fascinated the artist, and he had compiled his own small collection of objects by 1912 the latest. Before that, the ethnological museums in Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin offered illustrative material. The archaic-looking, often geometric and abstracted forms added another dimension to his painting. In the work "Rote Düne", Schmidt-Rottluff finally achieved that iconic effect and inner power that make non-European sculptures so captivating. Attracted by the blazing red of the creatures in the painting, the eye remains spellbound by it. The painting provoked enthusiastic reactions in its first exhibition at the Jena Kunstverein in July 1914. Botho Graef, then professor of art history at the Jena University and an early supporter of the "Brücke" artists, dedicated an honorable mention and purchase recommendation for "Rote Düne" to the exhibition as early as on July 29. However, the correspondence between the managing director Eberhard Grisebach and Schmidt-Rottluff died as the situation became increasingly uncertain in light of the international declarations of war in late July/early August.
Other nudes from the Nida body of works are in important collections today, including "Akte im Schilf“ (Nudes in the Reed), Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, "Badende", Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and "Drei rote Akte“ (Three Red Nudes), Nationalgalerie Berlin. In 1949, the latter was the first work the museum acquired after the division of Berlin. As part of the newly founded "Galerie des 20. Jahrhunderts" under the direction of Adolf Jannasch; it bears the inventory number 1. However, within the group of works, "Rote Düne" with its consummate concentration and reduction, undisputedly marks the apex as an 'archetype' of powerful female bodies in harmony with nature. [KT]

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
Rote Düne, 1913.
Oil on canvas
€ 800,000 / $ 864,000
€ 1,945,000 / $ 2,100,600

(incl. surcharge)