Three Chinese Junks
  • Emil Nolde
  • Nolde/Schleswig 1867 - 1956 Seebüll
  • Three Chinese Junks, 1913
  • Brush and black ink, watercolour, on Japan paper with irregular borders
  • signed with pencil on the lower right: Nolde
  • 240 × 328 mm
Collection Wilhelm and Hedwig Buller, Duisburg
Düsseldorf 1955, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen: Sammlung Wilhelm Buller, cat. no. 231

Emil Hansen, the son of a farmer, grew up in the German-Danish border region; he officially assumed the name of his birthplace, Nolde, first in 1902. Against his parents’ will, he chose to study as a joiner and furniture designer.

He later earned his first money in this line of work in Munich, Karlsruhe, and Berlin. In 1892, he received an apprenticeship for ornamental drawing at the School of Applied Arts in St. Gallen; he attempted his first landscape-watercolours at the same time, and soon thereafter also painting in oil. Unexpectedly, he received so much money with his witty watercolour postcards of the mountains that he took a step towards independence in 1898 and settled in Munich. Then, in 1900, he studied for several months at the famous Académie Julian in Paris before moving back to the North.

His first religious paintings originated there, beginning in 1909, and thereafter comprised a substantial portion of his artistic output. Nolde gained further inspiration and ideas on his numerous journeys through Germany and abroad, which he then implemented in his atelier in Berlin or his northGerman retreat – which, from 1920, was located on a floodprotected mound in Seebüll near the Danish border.

In October 1913, Emil Nolde and his wife Ada accompanied the medical-demographic German New Guinea Expedition to the German colonies in the Pacific region, which led over Russia, Japan, and even China. During the boat trips on the Yangtze and Han Rivers, Nolde was especially fascinated by the exotic junks with their magnificent large sails, which he later described in his memoirs: ”Junks with white or coloured sails. This was all my joy, my element, this hustle and bustle on the water with the long reflections of the sails, be it from individual boats or from charming groups“1. He then tried to capture these new impressions on paper in numerous watercolours and pen and ink drawings. The euphoric and spontaneous painting style of those sheets is also evident in this drawing, supported by reduced colouration in exotic tones.

Prof. Dr. Manfred Reuther from Seebüll confirmed the authenticity of this drawing.

  1. Emil Nolde: Welt und Heimat, die Südseereise, Cologne 1936, p. 40