The Expressionist Emil Nolde is surely one of the interesting German artists of the twentieth century. His ambivalent role during the time of National Socialism – on the one hand he was defamed as “degenerate artist”, on the other hand he himself was a confirmed member of the NS party – is intensively discussed now. Born in Nolde, a small town in what was then North Schleswig, he remained close to his homeland between two seas in the German-Danish border region throughout his life. Watercolour, a technique he gradually perfected in close correlation with his oil paintings, played a crucial role in his work.
Coastal Landscape shows a view of a cliff. The areas of the ground that are left blank are part of the water surface and the sky. All depicted objects are outlined with black lines, including the two sailboats and the larger ship with dense smoke rising from it. Just a few brushstrokes and dabs of paint suffice to create an expressive rendering of cloudy weather conditions. Radiant blue and orange form a strong colour contrast. Nolde referred to the symphonious “music of colours” characterising his works. This undated watercolour was probably created during one of his trips to the north-western coast of Jutland.