Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976)
Wolken über dem Meer, signed 'SRottluff'(lower left), charcoal on paper, 39x 52 cm
The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Professor Dr. Phil. Gunther Thiem. Exactly one year after the twin ‘Degenarate Art’ (Entartete Kunst) propaganda exhibitions in Munich, the exhibition Twentieth Century German Art opened its doors in London. The 1938 London show contained over 300 examples of German modernist art, paintings, sculptures and works on paper by over 60 artists, among them Max Beckmann, Max Liebermann, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, George Grosz, Otto Dix, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Kurt Schwitters. Twentieth Century German Art was not only the first major retrospective of German modernism in the English-speaking world, it was also the largest international response to the Nazi campaign against so-called ‘degenerate’ art. All but one of the exhibited artists had been derided as ‘degenerate’ in Germany, seen their works confiscated from German museums, or been forced into exile from the Third Reich. The drawing by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff offered here was one of the six works by Schmidt-Rottluff present in this exhibition. Recent research has revealed the complexity of staging the exhibition, and the challenges organisers faced in bringing together such an extensive and varied exhibition. Ultimately, a remarkable diversity of lenders were prepared to contribute works. Alongside British and Swiss private collectors, dealers in London and Paris, and museums in Basel and Luzern, they included scores of German emigrés – artists and collectors – sending works from countries across Europe as they sought to escape the Third Reich.
(Literature: L. Wasensteiner, M. Faass: ‘Defending 'Degenerate' German Art, London 1938, Mit Kandinsky, Liebermann und Nolde gegen Hitler’, Villa Liebermann Am Wannsee/The Wiener Library, London 2018. L. Wasensteiner, ‘The Twentieth Century German Art Exhibition, Answering Degenerate Art in 1930s London’, Routledge Research in Art Museums and Exhibitions, New York 2019. p. 172. ), Provenance:
-Mr and Mrs Peter and Irene Meyer, Holland Park, London (probably acquired in Germany during the 1930s), thence by descent.
-Anon. sale, Sotheby’s, Londen, 23 March 2006, lot 110, as: Wolken uber dem Meer.
-Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Lucy Wasensteiner, 'The Twentieth Century German Art Exhibition. Answering degenerate art in 1930s London, New York 2019, p. 172, no. 273.
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