Tränende Herzen und Tulpen
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Emil Nolde

Tränende Herzen und Tulpen

GMT Galerie Marc Triebold

Date 1948/50

Period 20th century

Dimension 19.3 x 13.9 cm (7⁵/₈ x 5¹/₂ inches)

Framed dimension cm (15³/₄ x 11³/₄ inches)

‘I loved the blooming colours of the flowers and the purity of these colours. I loved the flowers in their fate: shooting up, blossoming, shining, glowing, blissful, bending, withering, discarded, ending in the pit. Our human destiny is not always just as logical and beautiful, but it also always ends in fire or in the pit.’ 

Nature, with its landscapes and floral splendour, was an almost endless source of inspiration for the artist Emil Nolde for his oil paintings, but above all for his wonderful works on paper. As the son of a farmer, Nolde experienced a close connection with nature from his earliest childhood and the painter was always drawn to nature in the later stages of his life. He fulfilled a great dream with his studio house in Seebüll, which is surrounded by a magnificent farm garden that the artist created together with his wife Ada. The immense colourfulness of the numerous flowers inspired Nolde to create his most beautiful watercolours and the colouring of the blossoms in particular led the artist to make colour his central means of expression. In our sheet ‘Tearful Hearts and Tulips’, it is above all the bright colours that captivate the viewer. At an advanced age and yet full of youthful vigour, Nolde manages to create a very sensitive and at the same time very expressive floral still life. The painter contrasts the vibrant red of the tulips with the delicate drawing of the tearing hearts, whose yellow reflections of light glow warmly and resemble a string of lanterns. Nolde chose an intense blue as the background colour, which intensifies the luminosity of the flowers. Nolde deliberately focusses on the flower heads in the foreground by using a tightly cropped image. This strong close-up view seems to encourage the viewer to enter into an intimate dialogue with nature.

The special magic of the sheet ‘Tearing Hearts and Tulips’ lies in the great virtuosity with which Nolde explores the boundaries of watercolour painting anew. On the one hand, the skilful composition of the picture and the confident drawing of the flower stems testify to the talented and technically mature painter. On the other hand, Nolde's spirited spontaneity, which remained with him throughout his life, is also convincing in this watercolour. He ‘[...] always endeavoured to gain the unpredictability of chance as a creative element in the working process. The painter [reacts] sensitively like a seismograph to such impulses and [likes to] let his imagination be guided by the chance circumstances of the moment. ‘2)

The greatest challenge of watercolour lies in the speed with which he works and the impossibility of subsequent correction. His carefree, intensely colourful painting and the blurred transitions bear witness to how playfully Nolde mastered this challenge.

Dr Manfred Reuther, Director of the Ada and Emil Nolde Foundation in Seebüll, aptly explores the secret of Nolde's wonderful floral still lifes: ‘Nolde [sought] to congenially translate his haunting closeness to nature into watercolour, with which he [was] able to shape his innermost emotions and artistic intentions in the painting process itself. With a fully saturated, heavy brush and in rapid, almost organically assured sequences, the pictures are born out of the colour, which is eagerly absorbed by the soft, absorbent Japanese paper, so that both come together to form an indissoluble, natural unity [...]. The pure, unbroken colours, the irregularities and flowing transitions, stains and gradients, the inclusion of controlled chance in the creative process in general, correspond in a special way with the peculiarity of the plant motifs, and correspond in the pictorial realisation to the essence and appearance of the flowers, blossoms and leaves. ‘3)


1) Emil Nolde, ‘Mein Leben’, Cologne 2008, p. 164.

2) Quoted from: Manfred Reuther, ‘’Greetings from our young garden‘ - Emil Nolde's gardens and his flower paintings’, in: Nolde Stiftung Seebüll (ed.), ‘Emil Nolde. My garden full of flowers", Cologne 2009, p. 32.

3) Ibid. S. 33.

Date: 1948/50

Period: 20th century

Signature: Signed and dedicated on the underlay cardboard: "Gerta Kahlke zur Konfirmation von J. und E. Nolde." 

Dimension: 19.3 x 13.9 cm (7⁵/₈ x 5¹/₂ inches)

Provenance: Studio of Emil Nolde; Collection Gerta Kahlke, Seebüll (1952 presented by  Jolanthe & Emil Nolde); Collection Svend Aarkrog, Aarhus, Denmark (since 1960).

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GMT Galerie Marc Triebold

19th to 21st Century paintings, sculptures, works on paper and prints. German Expressionism, Modern, internationally significant Contemporary Art, Katsushika Hokusai

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