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Otto Modersohn

"Unsere Felder (Our Fields)", Summer 1916

Oil on wood

24 x 32 cm / framed 32 x 41 cm  ″

Monogrammed verso "L M" (Louise Modersohn-Breling)
with authentication by Antje Modersohn

- with craftsmans frame -

N 9355

About the work

Otto Modersohn painted this panel in 1916 in Worpswede, where from the autumn of 1915 he and his small family resumed residence in his house which had stood empty since 1908. Like so many at this time, he was experiencing financial difficulties brought on by the war, and left Fischerhude in order to save rent, and in the hope of generating a more positive response to his paintings in the "global village". From 1916 onwards, Modersohn painted exclusively small-format works on wood panels, inspired by an exhibition of his early-period Westphalian paintings in the Kunsthalle Bremen, to which he had been persuaded by the director Emil Waldmann. The latter also subsequently commented on the panels painted in Worpswede in December 1916 in the local newspaper, the Bremer Nachrichten: "He paints small pictures, intimate, composed down to the very last detail, and characterised by an enchantingly vibrant elegance and emotional perception. He had lost nothing of his original refinement, which in the late 1890s had brought him so much success. However, now this is enriched by a calm and self-assured profundity."
Otto Modersohn's choice of painting technique was dependent upon the particular format. He experimented primarily with oil tempera paints from Munich-based company Wurm, often diluted with fig milk. In addition, there were also numerous panels on which he applied conventional oil paint.
This present painting depicts the field behind Modersohn's Worpsweder residence. During the war, having his own garden proved to be a blessing by facilitating a degree of self-sufficiency. Responsible for planning and tending his garden was probably his prudent third wife Louise Modersohn-Breling, who, shown here inspecting the garden together with their son Ulrich and daughter Mathilde "Tille", was the product of Otto Modersohn's second marriage to Paula Modersohn-Becker. The depicted children may be busy pulling out the sprouting weeds. The cabbages, potatoes, turnips and even rows of plants are showing the first tentative green leaves. Beans sprouts are also recognisable in this spacious garden. In the background, flanking the road, are clusters of neighbouring houses.
Overarching the scene is an amorphous mass of dark rain cloud. Otto Modersohn returned to Fischerhude as early as the spring of 1917, where, as he remarked, the local peasants would not behave so callously towards a starving artist family as the Worpsweders during a war-time winter.
(Rainer Noeres)

Further works by Otto Modersohn

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