Sale: 545 / Evening Sale, Dec. 08. 2023 in Munich Lot 53

Otto Mueller
Badende in Landschaft, 1920.
Glue-bound distemper on burlap
€ 600,000 - 800,000

$ 630,000 - 840,000

Badende in Landschaft. 1920.
Glue-bound distemper on burlap.
80 x 107.5 cm (31.4 x 42.3 in).
Find more works from the William Landmann Collection in our Modern Art Day Sale on Saturday, December 9, 2023 and in our Online Only Auction from November 15 - December 10, 2023.

• An untouched, paradisiacal place.
• This landscape with nudes is one of the artist's epochal motifs.
• Through the matt distemper on burlap, Otto Mueller created special aesthetics that was progressive for his time, and which has retained its appeal to this day.
• "Bathers in Landscape": Image of nature and naturalness in museum quality.
• Part of the same private collection for 100 years.
• The painting's provenance reflects Germany's eventful history.
• From the William Landmann Collection, Canada

PROVENANCE: Das Kunsthaus Herbert Tannenbaum, Mannheim.
Collection of William (Dr. Wilhelm) Landmann (1891-1987), Mannheim/Amsterdam/Toronto (acquired from the above in the early 1920s).
Martin Landmann Collection (1923-2021), Vancouver, Canada (obtained from the above).
Ever since family-owned.

EXHIBITION: Kunsthandlung Alfred Heller, Berlin (presumably 1921, with detached label).
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (July 1939-1946 as loan from the Landmann Collection).
European sculpture and painting from the collection of William Landmann, Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, October 18 - November 17, 1946.
The Wilhelm Landmann collection, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, December 1948.
The Schon and Landmann collections, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, March 4 - 27, 1949.
Für die Kunst! Herbert Tannenbaum und sein Kunsthaus. Ein Galerist - seine Künstler, seine Kunden, sein Konzept, Reiß-Museum, Mannheim, September 11, 1994 - January 8, 1995, cat. no. 256 (color illu. p. 81).

LITERATURE: Tanja Pirsig-Marshall/Mario-Andreas von Lüttichau, Otto Mueller, Leipzig 2020, vol. 1, catalogue raisonné no. G1920/ 05
Robert Hubbard, European Paintings in Canadian CollectionsII, Toronto 1962, p. 160.
Documents on the loan from the Landmann Collection, archive of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, folder 707.
Exhibition lists from 1946, 1948, 1949, archive of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.
Collection inventory (file card) of the Landmann Collection, privately-owned.

"It is my declared goal to express my sensation of landscape and people with the greatest possible simplicity."

Otto Mueller, 1919

Called up: December 8, 2023 - ca. 18.44 h +/- 20 min.

The depiction of bathers in a landscape like in this exceptionally beautiful and harmoniously composed painting is characteristic and typical of the work of Otto Mueller. These are sections of landscapes that, with a few exceptions, are not connected to any particular time or place. Individual, crooked trees with dense, large-leaved crowns, like on a stage, at times with tall grass, a sandy path between dunes, where the bather, the nude, is positioned behind the dunes, feeling relaxed and unobserved, far away from the beaches. It is an Arcadian landscape with a wonderfully fine-tuned color palette, taken to a timeless earthly paradise.

Otto Mueller began to formulate the topic of nudes in the landscape in a variety of ways. He varied between pure figure compositions integrated into the landscape or, as is the case here, extensive compositions that he enlivens with isolated figures in the landscape. With great intensity, Mueller sought to render his personal idea of the theme of nudes in nature with the simplest forms and the female body with perfect grace. "His work," said the theater and art critic Paul Fechter in an unpublished essay from 1920, "was always about the existence and form of women, in which he found Eros and beauty". As abstraction inevitably set in, portrait-like characterizations became less common and eventually gave way to typification.

Otto Mueller. The nude, the bather. Paul Cezanne
Otto Mueller's intensive examination of the classic theme of "bathers" or "man in the landscape" inevitably evokes thoughts of Cézanne, who made this theme one of the central motifs in the art of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In terms of their structure, Mueller's often clearly distributed and interwoven figures, his well-composed variations, are reminiscent of Cézanne. However, Otto Mueller - whose occupation with Cézanne is assumed here – seems to have reduced the plasticity of the body even further, in comparison with Cézanne. Just as he simplified the physical gestures of the sitting, squatting, kneeling and standing figures in relation to one another. Otto Mueller never demonstrably mentioned these intentions, and he has left behind only very few such theoretic documents. Therefore, obvious similarities with role models or contemporaries can only be discovered through analytical comparisons.

A direct reaction to Cézanne can be assumed early on in Mueller's drawings and works created on Fehmarn in 1908. This can also be said for Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, whose works that he had made since the summer of 1909 were clearly inspired by Cézanne. In any case, the knowledge of Cézanne's "Bathers" had great impact on the works that the "Brücke" artists created on the Moritzburg Ponds in the summers of 1910 and 1911 and thus indirectly also on Otto Mueller. Like Kirchner and Erich Heckel, as well as the many other artists who caused a veritable reception flood, Mueller draws the same conclusions from his encounter with the Frenchman's paintings. Bathers in ponds and lakes or girls sunbathing in the open air, always youthful nudes, were Otto Mueller's outstanding themes even before Mueller's famous motifs on the life of the gypsies and his depictions of intimately loving couples. There are countless variations on a seemingly inexhaustible theme, which the artist described in 1919 in the foreword to the first solo exhibition at Galerie Paul Cassirer as his ultimate goal: "to express feelings about landscape and people with the greatest possible simplicity."

Youthful nudity, skinny and of slender figure
The harmony between the two girls on the left and right of the path in this dune landscape is obvious, like "a fugue of the most beautiful leisure that defines each individual composition as an elementary form", said the art critic Willi Wolfradt in 1929, characterizing Otto Mueller's imagery. With poetic prose, Willi Wolfradt described these girls in comparable situations with the woderful words: "Youthful nudity, skinny and of slender figure and gestures, crouches casually in the grass on the banks of forest ponds, immersed in the holy inactivity of nature" (Willi Wolfradt, Otto Mueller , in: Die Kunst, volume 59, Munich 1929, p. 121ff.).

Despite all the simplification in the representation of the body and the quick, nervous account of the landscape, proportions remained the measure of his compositions. “He lived from measure and number, from structure and inner content”, as Werner Haftmann said about Otto Mueller, comparing him with Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, who, on the other hand, throve on “direct expressions of his very vital will to form”. A remarkably closed, more balanced color scheme and more balanced composition of figures and landscape can even be found in Mueller's early work. In any case, the naked person in the open, whether on Fehmarn's coast, in the Bohemian forests or at the Moritzburg Ponds, seemed not only self-evident to the young "Brücke" artists, but they also associated - in a figurative sense - a longing for a paradisiacal life, the repression of the daily grind, with it.

“There is a slight melancholy,” said Paul Westheim, one of the first art critics and editor of the magazine “Das Kunstblatt” in 1918 on Otto Mueller’s themes, “a sensitive look into the world that seems to shy away from everything that is loud and bright, which could somehow turn out dramatic. [..] The lovers and the bathers that he painted are also of the same type, [..] bathers on the beach, naked bodies between reeds and trees, seemingly inexhaustible topics for Mueller, which he always knew to make a variant of, always revisiting the motif time and again, in order to put just a little bit more feeling into it. Again and again, bodies with a development so delayed that one can't tell their gender. They grow up slim, pointed, with bony limbs that make every movement angular. This undeniably reveals a touch of lyricism , which is characteristic of humans and continually permeates the production like a muting chord. This undertone of sentiment gives Otto Mueller's works their special appeal." (Paul Westheim, Otto Mueller, in: Das Kunstblatt, issue 2, 1918, pp. 129ff.)

The provenance: an eventful history
The painting “Badende in der Landschaft” has been in possession of the Landmann family for almost 100 years. There is a file card in William (Wilhelm) Landmann's handwritten collection inventory that testifies to the provenance. The work was purchased from the Mannheim art dealer Herbert Tannenbaum, then best friend of the collector Wilhelm Landmann, in the early 1920s. And the card also mentions the owner before Herbert Tannenbaum: It says “Formerly Schön Collection”. It seems quite likely that this refers to Fritz Rudolf Schön (born 1881), one of the early collectors of modern art with a partiuclar liking for Feininger and Kandinsky, who left Berlin to emigrate to Switzerland and later – just like William Landmann - to Toronto. The two knew each other and even exhibited their works of art together in Toronto in 1949. In this joint exhibition, the painting by Otto Mueller offered here was shown alongside works from the Schön Collection. The picture has been in Canada since 1946: When Wilhelm Landmann had to flee to Amsterdam in 1936, he took the painting with him. The work was kept at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdamand, where it would survive the years of war and occupation. In 1946, the painting was sent to Toronto, the new home of William Landmann. The same year, the work of art with its eventful history was presented to the local public at the renowned Art Gallery of Ontario as part of the exhibition "European sculpture and painting from the collection of William Landmann", with further exhibitions to follow. In 1953. the collector gave the picture to his son Martin, whose family has kept it to this day. [MvL/AT]

Buyer's premium and taxation for Otto Mueller "Badende in Landschaft"
This lot can be subjected to differential taxation plus a 7% import tax levy (saving approx. 5 % compared to regular taxation) or regular taxation.

Differential taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 32 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 27 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 22 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The buyer's premium contains VAT, however, it is not shown.

Regular taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 27 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 21% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 15% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The statutory VAT of currently 19 % is levied to the sum of hammer price and premium. As an exception, the reduced VAT of 7 % is added for printed books.

We kindly ask you to notify us before invoicing if you wish to be subject to regular taxation.