Sale: 545 / Evening Sale, Dec. 08. 2023 in Munich Lot 17

Hermann Max Pechstein
Der Mühlengraben, 1921.
Oil on canvas
€ 300,000 - 400,000

$ 318,000 - 424,000

Der Mühlengraben. 1921.
Oil on canvas.
Lower left signed (in ligature). Signed, titled and inscribed with the work number "XIV" on the reverse. 80.5 x 100.5 cm (31.6 x 39.5 in).

Mentioned in Pechstein's 1921 studio book with the number XIV and the title "Der Mühlengraben".

• In 1921, the year the work was made, Pechstein discovered Leba on the Baltic coast as his artistic happy place which would remain his second home until 1945.
• In rich and high-contrast colors, with atmospheric reflections and a fascinating depth effect, Pechstein composed an enchanting summer idyl.
• In terms of color and expressive brushstrokes, the work builds a bridge between Pechstein's Berlin "Brücke" period and the time in Leba, his new painter's paradise.
• In Leba, the artist met his future wife Marta Möller.
• Comparable works from this era are in renowned museums like the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the San Diego Museum of Art

PROVENANCE: Collection of Joseph Geller (1877-1958), Cologne (acquired directly from the artist, with an inscription on a label on the reverse).
Private collection Saarland (inherited from the above).
Galerie von Vertes, Zürich (acquired from the above in 2013).
Private collection USA (acquired from the above in 2014).
Private collection Switzerland.

EXHIBITION: Paula Modersohn und die Maler der Brücke, Kunsthalle Bern, July 3 - August 15, 1948, cat. no. 152 (illu., erroneously dated "1918").
Expressionisme. Van Gogh tot Picasso, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1949, cat. no. 133 (erroneously dated "1920", with different dimensions and the title "Kanaal", stretcher with an inscribed exhibition label).
Die Brücke in der Südsee. Exotik der Farbe, Saarlandmuseum, Saarbrücken, October 22, 2005 - January 8, 2006, cat. no. 103 (color illu., p. 193, dated "um 1920") .

LITERATURE: Aya Soika, Max Pechstein. Catalogue raisonné of oil paintings, vol. II, Munich 2011, p. 237, cat. no. 1921/24 (color illu.) and vol. I, Munich 2011, p. 73 (color illu., no. 3.4.).

Lothar-Günther Buchheim, Die Künstlergemeinschaft Brücke. Gemälde, Zeichnungen, Graphik, Plastik, Dokumente, Feldafing 1956, p. 310 (titled "Kanallandschaft" and the erroneous date "1918", black-and-white illu., no. 343).
Paul Fechter, Lebensdokumente einer Epoche. Der Maler und Zeichner Max Pechstein, in: Sonntagsblatt, Hamburg, no. 29, July 17, 1960, p. 7 (black-and-white illu.).
Kunsthaus Lempertz, Cologne, 2013, lot 316 (color illu.).

Called up: December 8, 2023 - ca. 17.32 h +/- 20 min.

Painter's paradise on the Baltic Sea
In 1909, Pechstein traveled to the Baltic Sea for the first time, to the small town of Nida on the Curonian Spit in what was then East Prussia. In the years that followed, the artist made the local landscape and the simple life of the fishermen and farmers the main motif of his works. In 1920, however, the stays in Nidden ended for the time being after the village fell under the administration of the newly founded League of Nations after the First World War and the Treaty of Versailles and was later given to Lithuania. However, the artist could not do without the annual several-months-long stays on his beloved Baltic Sea, and so he chose the coastal town of Leba in what was then Pomerania as his new summer home the following year. Making it his second home, he returned regularly until 1945. In his "Erinnerungen” (Memoirs), the artist wrote about Leba in retrospect: "In April 1921 I went looking on my own, with only the most essential material in my backpack. According to the map, there was a similar spit in East Pomerania, between Lake Leba and the Baltic Sea. [.] Not only did I learn to appreciate this coast, I loved it. [..] It gave me a sense of security that helped me from going under after the war." (Max Pechstein, Erinnerungen, Stuttgart 1960, pp. 107f.)

The village of Leba is located on a narrow, almost island-like spit between the lakes Leba and Sarbsko and the open sea. Even in Pechstein's time, it was a popular, yet not overcrowded, small seaside resort, surrounded by a still very original dune landscape. The artist found the retreat he had been looking for, his personal paradise away from the noisy, hectic and anonymous city of Berlin: "But I admit that the city depresses and occasionally paralyzes me; I need air, sky and a wide view above me." (Pechstein in a letter to Walter Minnich, probably on March 1922, quoted from: ex. cat. Hamburg 2017, p. 149)

The picturesque 'Mühlengraben' (Mill Ditch)
The painting offered here was created during Pechstein's very first stay in Leba in 1921. Following his Easter "discovery voyag", Pechstein and his then wife Lotte went to Leba together in May. They stayed at ‘Strandhotel Möller’, where the artist met the owner's daughter Marta Möller, his future second wife, and her sister Liese. The two would become his preferred models and he captured them in numerous drawings and paintings. Until his departure in October 1921, Pechstein also painted some views of the coast and the dune landscape, as well as seascapes and pictures of Leba.

Pechstein showed the picturesque ‘Mühlengraben’ the way it winds through town lined with trees and bushes with two fishing boats bobbing on the water and one of the two wooden bridges. The mill ditch, the trees towering over it and the reflection on the water surface lead the eye into the picture’s depths. Pechstein uses few but rich and strong colors, which are repeated in the sophisticated reflection on the water: He shows the plants in green, the buildings in red tones, the paths in a warm yellow and the sky in clear blue tones.

The creative time between the wars
The early 1920s marked a quite extraordinary and very fruitful creative phase in which Pechstein captured the surroundings of his adopted homeland on canvas with an expressive, warm-toned color palette, thus creating a certain chromatic similarity to the widely-noticed pictures of the South Seas from 1914. The result is an extremely balanced, harmonious picture, both in terms of composition and color, which can certainly be considered a particularly successful example of these creative years after the First World War. With his flat yet detailed painting style and the strong colors, Pechstein expressed his intense experience of nature, as well as his inner world and thus achieved his very own expressionist visual language.

The works from the miserable post-war years, of which the present one is a prime example, document a kind of artistic rebirth and testify to him emotionally coping with the war trauma. The artist achieved such a harmonious, strong unity of form, content and color - particularly in the landscape depictions made during his stays at the Baltic Sea in the 1920s – that he conveys his deeply felt connection to nature and the simple life at the coast without any dramatic exaggeration (cf. ex. cat. Max Pechstein im Brücke Museum, Munich 2001, p. 19). [CH]

Buyer's premium, taxation and resale right compensation for Hermann Max Pechstein "Der Mühlengraben"
This lot can be purchased subject to differential or regular taxation, artist‘s resale right compensation is due.

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.

Calculation of artist‘s resale right compensation:
For works by living artists, or by artists who died less than 70 years ago, a artist‘s resale right compensation is levied in accordance with Section 26 UrhG:
4 % of hammer price from 400.00 euros up to 50,000 euros,
another 3 % of the hammer price from 50,000.01 to 200,000 euros,
another 1 % for the part of the sales proceeds from 200,000.01 to 350,000 euros,
another 0.5 % for the part of the sale proceeds from 350,000.01 to 500,000 euros and
another 0.25 % of the hammer price over 500,000 euros.
The maximum total of the resale right fee is EUR 12,500.

The artist‘s resale right compensation is VAT-exempt.