"Berge im Winter (Im Winter I) (Mountains in Winter (In Winter I))", 1949
Watercolour and pencil on paper
Signed, dated and titled bottom right
"Heckel 49 / Berge im Winter"
- with craftsman's frame and non-reflective glass -
After 1945 Erich Heckel resumed his frequent travelling, which had been interrupted by the war, and sought new visual experiences on his extended trips to the German, Austrian and Swiss Alps. Wandering through the region in his quest for motifs, he would record what his eyes beheld in sketches. Expansive landscape compositions usually devoid of people highlighting the vastness and grandeur of nature characterised Heckel's impressions of this mountain wilderness. This present watercolour, whose muted palette was applied in a second stage back in his studio, was completed during his first winter stay in Upper Bavaria in 1949, and depicts the surrounding scenery. A second sheet of this motif also exists under the title "Mountains in Winter II".
A pervasive serenity and majestic monumentality inform this representation of the snow-covered winter mountain scenery. Striking contrasts to the radiant brightness of the sun-bathed snowfields are offered by the grey and sepia hues of the sparsely-scattered trees and the open rock faces. Generosity of spirit, economy and simplicity of formal structures, combined with an almost lyrical expressivity typify the distinctive mood of Heckel's late mountain landscapes. A lucid compositional structure and a finely-balanced palette - all imbued with a profound emotional intensity, remained as the essential characteristics of the pictorial world of Erich Heckel between the 1940s and the 1960s.
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