Asta: 540 / Evening Sale del 09 giugno 2023 a Monaco di Baviera Lot 16


Hermann Max Pechstein
Die Ruhende, 1911.
Olio su tela
€ 1,200,000 / $ 1,260,000
€ 2,226,000 / $ 2,337,300

( commissione inclusa)
Die Ruhende. 1911.
Oil on canvas.
Soika 1911/70. Signed and dated in lower left. Inscribed “Ruhende / 500 / M. Pechstein“ on the reverse. 75 x 101 cm (29.5 x 39.7 in).

• Outstanding museum-quality masterpiece – for nine decades part of the collection of the Nationalgalerie, Berlin.
• Pechstein transforms Edvard Munch’s scandalous picture “The Day After“ from 1894 (Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo) into a declaration of love to his young wife Lotte.
• Lotte - his most inspiring model in the vibrant art metropolis Berlin.
• Pechstein captured the intimate moment in his progressive masterwork with dynamic color contrasts, a strong intensity and an immediate close-up view.
• Returned by the ‘Stiftung Preußische Museen, Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin’ to the heirs of the acclaimed art collector Dr. Ismar Littmann in an amicable agreement

Further works from the Collection Dr. Ismar Littmann you will find in our Modern Art Day Dale on Saturday, June 10th, 2023 (lot 320 and lot 321).

Dr. Ismar Littmann Collection, Breslau (until September 23, 1934).
Estate of Dr. Ismar Littmann, Breslau
(inherited from Dr. Ismar Littmann on September 23, 1934, until ca. 1934/35: Dresdner Bank).
Dresdner Bank, Breslau (as security from the above, bank mandate “Schwedenberg (Breslau branch)“).
Auction house Max Perl, Berlin, February 26/27, 1935
(consigned by the above, not sold).
Dresdner Bank, Breslau (bank mandate “Schwedenberg (Breslau branch)“).
State-owned (since August 15, 1935: en-bloc acquisition of pledged property and own property of Dresdner Bank through the Prussian State).
Nationalgalerie, Berlin (since December 10, 1936: taken over from the above in line with deecree Vd 29/36).
Nationalgalerie East Berlin (belatedly inventoried in 1968).
Nationalgalerie, State Museums Berlin, Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (since 1991: Inventory no. A IV 204, merger of East/West collections).
Restituted to the heirs after Dr. Ismar Littmann, Breslau (2022).

XXIV. Ausstellung der Berliner Secession, Ausstellungshaus am Kurfürstendamm, Berlin 1912, cat. no. 195.
Max Pechstein. Das ferne Paradies, Städtisches Kunstmuseum Spendhaus Reutlingen, November 26, 1995 – January 28, 1996; Städtisches Museum Zwickau, February 18 – April 14, 1996, cat. no. 5 (with illu. on plate 5)
Max Pechstein - Sein malerisches Werk, ed. by Magdalena Moeller, Brücke Museum, Berlin, September 22, 1996 – January 1, 1997; Kunsthalle Tübingen January 11 – April 6, 1997; Kunsthalle Kiel April 20 – June 15, 1997, cat. no. 68, p. 315 (with illu.).
Max Pechstein. Werke aus dem Brücke-Museum Berlin und anderen Sammlungen, Städtische Galerie, Bietigheim-Bissingen, July 6 – September 15. 2002, no. Z 8 (with illu. on p. 18).
Brücke und Berlin, 100 Jahre Expressionismus Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie, June 8 – August 28, 2005; Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich, February 24 – May 21, 2006 (here titled: 100 Jahre Brücke - Expressionismus aus Berlin), cat. no. 336 (with illu. on p. 37).
Im Farbenrausch - Munch, Matisse und die Expressionisten, Museum Folkwang, Essen, 29.9.2012-13.1.2013, cat. no. 134, illu. p. 258 (together with Edvard Munch, „The day after“, 1894, cat. no. 102, illu. p. 259) .

Max Perl, Berlin, Bücher des 15.-20. Jahrh.: darunter Bücher aus der Bibliothek Robert Steinberg, Bielefeld ; Gemälde, Aquarelle, Handzeichnungen, Graphik, Kunstgewerbe, Plastik, 188th auction, February 26/27, 1935, no. 2566.
Inventory catalog State Museums Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Gemälde des 20. Jahrhunderts, ed. by Friedegund Weidemann, Berlin 1976, p. 63 (with black-and-white illu.).
Horst Jähner, Künstlergruppe Brücke. Geschichte einer Gemeinschaft und das Lebenswerk ihrer Repräsentanten, Berlin 1984 (with black-and-white illu. on p. 312).
Das Schicksal einer Sammlung. Die Neue Abteilung der Nationalgalerie im ehemaligen Kronprinzen-Palais. Zu einer Dokumentation anlässlich der Ausstellung "Expressionisten - Die Avantgarde in Deutschland 1905-1920“, ed. by Andreas Hüneke et al, ex. cat. State Museums Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Berlin 1986, pp. 37, 48 (with illu. on p. 36).
Das Schicksal einer Sammlung. Aufbau und Zerstörung der Neuen Abteilung der Nationalgalerie im ehemaligen Kronprinzen-Palais Unter den Linden. 1918-1945, ed. by Annegret Janda, ex. cat. State Museums Berlin/DDR, Nationalgalerie, Berlin 1988; pp. 68, 86 (with black-and-white illu. on p. 70).
Die Brücke und die Moderne 1904-1914, October 21 - January 15, 2006, ex. cat. Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg, Munich 2004, p. 168 (with illu.).
Maike Steinkamp, Das unerwünschte Erbe. Die Rezeption „entarteter“ Kunst in Kunstkritik, Ausstellungen und Museen der SBZ und der frühen DDR, Berlin 2008, p. 75 (with black-and-white illu.).
Lynn Rother, Kunst durch Kredit. Die Berliner Museen und ihre Erwerbungen von der Dresdner Bank 1935, Berlin 2017, pp. 13-51 (on the acquisitions made by Berlin museums) and p. 432 (on this work).

List of Littmann Collection, no. 265 (copy by Mrs. Littman, Wharton; copy in Pechstein Archive, Hamburg).
List 40 (bank mandate ‘Schwedenberg’, Breslau branch), no date [August 15, 1935], in: GStA-PK, I. HA Rep. 151, HB, no. 1234.
List 40 (bank mandate ‘Schwedenberg’, Breslau branch), annotated copy of the Schlossmuseum, July 30, 1935, in: SMB-ZA, I/KGM 2.
List 40 (bank mandate ‘Schwedenberg’, Breslau branch), annotated copy of the Gemäldegalerie, no date [July 30, 1935], ll. 1-134, in: SMB-ZA, I/GG 341.
List 40 (bank mandate ‘Schwedenberg’, Breslau branch), annotated copy of S. v. Carolsfeld, no date [August 1935], in: KGM archive.

“I was very fortunate to have someone around me who was completely natural and whose movements I could absorb. So I continued my quest to capture man and nature, more intensely and more inwardly than in Moritzburg in 1910. And entirely different, because with the human being I was now creating [..] creative powers flowed together in flesh and blood. That summer of 1911 intoxicated me from beginning to end.”

Max Pechstein, Erinnerungen, ed. by Leopold Reidemeister, Wiesbaden 1960, p. 50

Fascination Lotte - The “beautiful, wild woman”

Behind many important works by male artists we often find the story of their models and muses who provided them with inspiration. In Pechstein's case it was Charlotte Kaprolat, known as Lotte (1893-1965), who inspired him to some of his most exceptional artistic accomplishments after he had moved to Berlin. Following extensive travels through Italy and a stay in the art metropolis Paris in 1907/08, he decided to leave Dresden and to settle in Berlin where he initially earned a living with commissions he received from the architect Bruno Schneidereit. In search of a nude model that would meet his expectations, he met Charlotte in the studio of the fellow sculptor Georg Kolbe. Sitting model, the daughter of a head waiter and an ironer, supported the small family income. She became Pechstein's model for his first sensational appearance at the Berlin Secession in late April 1909: "Das Gelbe Tuch" (The Yellow Cloth, lost) caused a stir for its "sensual nonchalance" and the "wild carnality". In November the same year, Pechstein and Lotte, he 27 and she only 16 years old, moved into a small studio apartment on Durlacher Strasse 14 in Berlin-Friedenau. The building, known as "Zum Bieber", housed apartments, studios and a restaurant that was a meeting place for artists. With her expressive face and her free physicality, Lotte absolutely met Pechstein’s artistic conception of rambunctiousness and nativeness. Her fascination was owed to the strong presence she emanated. It allowed Pechstein the projection of primal naturalness, which he always sought to make the key aspect of his art, not least owed to the influence of non-European art and Gauguin's paintings. When his pictures were rejected by the exhibition jury of the Berlin Secession the following year, Pechstein and other rejected artists decided to found the ‘New Secession’. On the poster of the group’s first exhibition at Galerie Macht, he depicted Lotte as a fierce Amazon armed with bow and arrow, a picture that announced the break with the old established institution. Violating all conventions of female beauty and rules of conduct, the poster caused an outrage: “The exhibition poster shows a clumsy, naked Indian woman, brutally jotted down, aiming her arrow. This appears to be their program: An uprising of the primitive, raw artistic instincts against civilization, culture and taste in art.” (Erich Vogeler, in: Der Kunstwart. Vol. 23, 1909/1910, p. 314). The poet Else Lasker-Schüler, however, recognized the likeness to Lotte and wrote to her husband Herwarth Walden full of fascination: “Picture this, Herwarth, I saw the New Secession's exhibition poster at a café. That's Pechstein's wife. She really is an Indian, the beautiful daughter of the red vulture; she is wild and fierce in a gorgeous way, wearing a purple robe with yellow fringes.” With her dark black hair and her exotic physiognomy, Lotte became the symbol and embodiment of Pechstein's artistic ambitions and the ideal of a free-spirited life outside of conventions.

1911 - A New Period in Art and Life Commences

The young couple married in Berlin on March 25, 1911. An extremely productive and dynamic year in Pechstein’s career should begin. In March and April they went to Rome on their honeymoon. For the first time together with his wife, Pechstein spent the summer months from June to September in Nida on the Curonian Spit, where he had been painting plein-air nudes without disturbances since 1909. For Pechstein, the dune landscape was on par with the archaic, untouched South Sea paradises in Gauguin's paintings, whom he admired so much. In Nida the couple lived in Martin Sakuth's fisherman's hut right by the harbor, and if the weather allowed, they lived in a small red tent on the beach. Lotte sat for numerous nudes in the dunes, summery, liberated, vital and with the aura of a beauty from the South Seas. Once the weather got worse, they decided to return to Berlin. The motif of a resting woman testifies to the intimacy the young couple experienced after they got married. There are only very few pictures from that time that allow us to get so close to Lotte as a person. Portrayed in her sleep, the viewer catches an unadulterated glimpse of the person Pechstein lived with and whose presence he absorbed. He painted and drew Lotte getting up, getting dressed or bathing, showing how much he loved everything about her, the everyday life with his beloved wife became subject of his art and was worthy of a picture.
Her figure is surrounded by tender colors like pink and a light blue, quite different from the glaring red and yellow of the paintings in the dunes. Pechstein kept the interior’s dark blue, green and red-brown nuances so tender as if he wanted to avoid to disturb his lover in her sleep. The contour lines of the blankets, pillows and curtains are softer and less edgy. The image section also tells of the tender closeness of an unobserved, spontaneous moment in which he captured the sleeping woman. The right hand hanging down with a closed fist, is reminiscent of Georg Kolbe’s "dancer". It must have been exactly this moment of a childlike forgetfulness and a liberated nativeness that also cast a spell over Pechstein. If the picture was made the autumn after their return to Berlin, the hand resting on her stomach may be interpreted as a reference to Lotte's first pregnancy. Their first son was born in June 1912, but died a few days after his birth.

Own Paths - New Inspirations

Following Paul Cassirer's invitation, Pechstein showed the large-format painting of his wife, along with "Akt mit Fächer“ (Nude with Fan) and "Krankes Mädchen“ (Sick Girl), in the XXIV exhibition of the Berlin Secession in April 1912. Max Beckmann, Lovis Corinth and Max Liebermann were also represented in the exhibition, Kolbe with his "Tänzerin" (Dancer), while Van Gogh showed his "Arlésienne" and Picasso had also sent a few paintings. Such an environment also caught the attention of collectors and led to numerous follow-up invitations to exhibitions, e. g. to the "Blaue Reiter" in Munich and to Herwarth Walden's gallery "Der Sturm". Among the Brücke artists, Pechstein was the only one who had received academic training in art, and he was also the one with the closest ties to the international art scene. He visited Paris to experience the wild painting style of the Fauves for himself and was particularly fascinated by the motifs from the South Seas in Gauguin's paintings. The influence of Edvard Munch was also formative for Pechstein during his time with the artist group “Brücke“. The Dresden Art Salon Emil Richter, later the first address for the Brücke artists, had been dealing in Munch prints since 1902. And in February 1906, an exhibition of 20 pictures by the Norwegian artist was organized by the Saxon Art Association in Dresden, which Pechstein and the other members of the Brücke must have visited. Apart from that, they wanted to win the Norwegian artist as an active member. Without success. Munch's lasting effect on Pechstein can probably also be explained by the fact that his work is to be understood as a link between 19th-century art, especially in its symbolist-expressive aspect, and modernity. At the time, Munch was a source of inspiration for Pechstein in particular, in contrast to the painting of his teacher Otto Gussmann, whose master student he was until 1906. Upon its first exhibition in Berlin in 1892, the scandalous motif of “Der Tag danach“ (The Day After) was harshly criticized for its painterly execution and the moral decline it supposedly represented. It was precisely this rejection of Naturalism and Impressionism, which was conceived as shallow and materialistic, that seemed to have given direction to Munch's work in terms of psychological and emotional color effects and the free linear strokes. In his visual memory, Pechstein’s imaginary museum, the motif also bears resemblance to a work by Gauguin. "The Birth - Te Tamari no atua" from 1896, exhibited at the Berlin Secession in 1906 and at the Kunsthalle Mannheim in 1907. In 1910 it was part of a special exhibition at Galerie Ernst Arnold in Dresden. Following the peak the “Brücke“ reached with the works made at the Moritzburg Ponds in 1910, first tension between the group and Pechstein arose the following year. As Pechstein recalled, this was owed to the members’ growing wish for more individualism and an increasing competition between them after they had moved to Berlin in late 1911. Overall, they all sought the attention of the art market. In October 1911, Kirchner moved into the neighboring studio on Durlacher Strasse. However, in the spring of 1912, Pechstein and Lotte would move a few blocks away. Ada Nolde described Pechstein's participation in the exhibition of the Secession, an institution regarded as too academic, as an "unparalleled infidelity". Eventually, it would lead to his expulsion from the group on May 15, 1912. But this could not Pechstein on his successful path. He had a solo exhibition in Mannheim and also showed works at the Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne. He strengthened ties with the Galerie Gurlitt, where he eventually had his first solo show in February 1913, showing some 42 paintings and numerous other works. After the birth of their son Frank in 1913, another dream came true that following year: he and Lotte traveled to the German South Pacific colony of the Palau Islands. [MvL/KT]

Dr. Ismar Littmann

The Breslau attorney at law and notary Dr. Ismar Littmann was one of the most active collectors of German Expressionism. Born a merchant's son in Groß Strehlitz in Upper Silesia on July 2, 1878, he settled in Breslau as doctor of law in 1906. A little later he married Käthe Fränkel. Ismar Littmann became a member of the bar at the regional court. He soon established his own law firm, later together with his partner Max Loewe, and was appointed notary in 1921. The wealthy lawyer Dr. Ismar Littmann was a generous patron and supporter of modern, progressive art. He was particularly committed to contemporary artists from the Academy of Fine Arts in Breslau, among them the "Brücke" painter and academy professor Otto Mueller. Today the "Breslau artist bohème", which was shaped, promoted and accompanied by the collector and patron Ismar Littmann, is still well-known. From the late 1910s, Dr. Ismar Littmann began to compile his soon-to-be-famous art collection. The Littmann Collection included works by well-known German Impressionists and Expressionists, including, next to Max Pechstein, Otto Mueller, Käthe Kollwitz, Emil Nolde, Alexander Kanoldt and Lovis Corinth. Littmann also had close personal contacts with some of the artists mentioned.
Littmann's flair for the art of his time becomes particularly evident in the purchase of works by the Brücke artist Max Pechstein. Pioneering for the following years, he acquired paintings by the artist at a point when only a few private collectors valued and acquired them. This only changed in the early 1920s, when Max Pechstein was supported by gallerists such as Wolfgang Gurlitt – by that time his works had long found their way into the Dr. Ismar Littman Collection.
However, things suddenly changed when the National Socialists seized power. The Jewish lawyer Dr. Ismar Littmann had to face the terrors of persecution from an early point on. His professional group was one of the first that the National Socialists sought to destroy, both economically and socially. As of the spring of 1933, neither Dr. Ismar Littmann nor his children were able to pursue their professions. Deprived of his livelihood and joie de vivre, Ismar Littmann had to face up to the ruins of a once glamorous existence. Deep despair drove him into suicide on September 23, 1934. Ismar Littmann left his widow Käthe and four children behind. With luck, the survivors were able to flee the National Socialist dictatorship. In order to pay for their escape and to make a living in general, the Littmann family had to sell parts of the important art collection. On February 26 and 27, 1935, around 200 works from the Littmann Collection were offered in an auction at the auction house Max Perl in Berlin. Among them were several works that the Littmann family had given to various Breslau banks as securities, including them Max Pechstein's "Die Ruhende" and Wilhelm Schmid's "Selbstbildnis". In the course of the global economic crisis, Dr. Ismar Littmann was forced to give parts of his collection to banks in Breslau to secure loans. By May 1933, Littmann gradually redeemed paintings from these securities, as his business had recovered from the crisis. With the occupational ban in 1933, this was no longer possible and the paintings that had not yet been redeemed, remained with the banks. This way the Dresdner Bank sold "Die Ruhende" and the "Selbstbildnis" at auction through Max Perl.
The works, estimated in the catalog at 150 Reichsmark (Ruhende) and 100 RM (Selbstbildnis) remained unsold despite their bargain prices. They went back to the Dresdner Bank and, like the other Littmann securities that had not been redeemed, were kept under the bank mandate “Schwedenberg, Breslau branch”. As part of this bank mandate, the fate of these two paintings was sealed in a sales contract dated August 15, 1935, which made them part of an unprecedented art deal. The Prussian State acquired at least 4,101 objects en-bloc from the Dresdner Bank for a total of almost 7.5 million Reichsmarks. These works of art came from, among others, transactions the Dresdner Bank labeled 'bank mandates'. These ‘bank mandates’ were mostly based on loans given to people who faced anti-Semitic persecution because of their Jewish background from 1933 on. Accordingly, they had no means to service their loans and to redeem the works again. This was also Dr. Ismar Littmann’s fate (Lynn Rother, Kunst durch Kredit, pp. 2ff).
Through this deal the painting ended up a highlight of the Nationalgalerie/Kronprinzenpalais (East Berlin) and the Neue Nationalgalerie after the reunification, respectively. In 2022, both paintings are restituted to the heirs of Dr. Ismar Littmann in an amicable agreement. Once more, a German museum sends a strong signal of how to appropriately deal with Jewish-owned works of art. [SvdL]

Hermann Max Pechstein
Die Ruhende, 1911.
Olio su tela
€ 1,200,000 / $ 1,260,000
€ 2,226,000 / $ 2,337,300

( commissione inclusa)