Kürbisse in einer schale signed with initials and dated 'CR 21' (lower right) watercolour and tempera on paper 49 x 66.3cm (19 5/16 x 26 1/8in). Executed in 1921
PROVENANCE Collection of Friedrich Karl Kahn, Elberfeld, Germany. Thence by descent to the present owners.
This work is registered in the Christian Rohlfs Archive under the number 'CRA 39/12' and is sold with a certificate of authenticity from Dr. Birgit Schulte and Herr Wilfried Utermann dated, Hagen, den 30. März 2012.
As an artist whose roots were firmly in the German academic traditions of the nineteenth century, Rohlfs slowly embraced the influences of Impressionism before emerging as one of the country's foremost Expressionist artists. An isolated and independent figure, he married only two years before executing the present work, at the age of seventy. This heralded the start of a new period of travel to warmer climes, which introduced a brighter colour palette:
'His colours up to the end of the war had inclined towards darker shades, harmoniously blending one into the other, but now his paintings and watercolours show a rich yet light tonality a luminous intensity not seen before'. (P. Vogt, Christian Rohlfs 1849-1939: Watercolours, Drawings, Prints, exh. cat., Museum Folkwang Essen, 1969).
His increasing preference for strong, deep colours is evident in the present work, where the luminous yellow of the vegetables shines out against the dark background. Although he never fully embraced abstraction, Rohlfs' forms became increasingly condensed and here he represents the pumpkins with minimal, confident sweeps of the brush and bold swathes of pigment. From 1920 onwards he began to experiment with different media, as well as allowing the bare canvas to form part of the composition, as in Kürbisse in einer schale.