Emil Nolde (1867-1956)

1920/25
Watercolor on thin Japan paper
18.5 x 13.8 inches
Signed lower left

In 1902 Emil Nolde married Ada Vilstup, a Danish theatre student who was the daughter of a pastor in Jutland. She was Nolde�s muse, remaining his emotional mainstay and close companion for the rest of her life.
The subject of this watercolor, painted by the artist ca 1920/25, is a woman, portrayed in profile, who, the viewer may conclude, was Ada Nolde. The previous owner�s father bought the work at the Galerie Commeter in Hamburg in 1926. On visiting this family at their home, Nolde saw the portrait and spoke �of my Ada.� Since, for conservation reasons, the watercolor only hung until ca 1933, the brilliant colors are in their original state.
Nolde has built up the representation entirely from color; line plays virtually no role in this portrait. It is the uninhibited flow of color glowing with vitality and devoid of calculated effect which has so aptly caught the artist�s feelings for this woman. With consummate virtuosity he makes almost pure color sing, achieving an unsurpassable intensity.
This rapturous yet dreamy portrait reveals the visionary powers of an ardent nature striving to translate mood into art. In this sense Nolde was a Great Romantic, virtually untouched by the realities of life, as this painterly tribute so eloquently shows.



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