The work "Moor Cottage with Draw Well” was executed during a period in which Otto Modersohn, who in July 1899 announced his resignation from the Worpswede Artist' Association, was residing in Worpswede with his second wife, né Paula Becker. Initially a painting student of Fritz Mackensen, co–founder of the artists' colony in Worpswede, Paula soon became Otto's closest companion, and they eventually married in 1901. During their time together, Otto Modersohn and Paula Modersohn–Becker both worked on shaping their concept of representation and on giving concrete expression to their shared maxim of capturing the essence of "the thing–in–itself ". Fulsome in his praise and support of his wife's work, Otto Modersohn referred in his diary entries to their "mutual give and take". Yet despite their reciprocal influence, both retained their own distinctive visual idiom. Otto Modersohn's own testimony affords a keen insight into his concept of art. On September 1, 1903, he noted in his diary: "Nature is incredibly forceful, powerful, yet initially immeasurably restrained and tamed. This is how painting should be, for this is the essence of colour. Start off therefore with luminous, pure colours, before disrupting the tonality. Dilute the tonality – but not by mixing [colours] at the outset (tuer le ton) – thus creating a "restrained power". Painting demands courage and boldness. (...) Certainly what one sees is simple, plain and unadorned, but the essence is there. One senses the richness, the abundance, the depth, etc. [...] Expansive, magnificent and suggestive of the rich profundity – that's it."
In "Moor Cottage with Draw–Well" the viewer becomes keenly aware of this enigmatic quality of Modersohn's style. With the architecture commanding the centre of the canvas, in the manner of monolith, the clear sky opens up to reveal an almost transcendent vastness in the background. The arrestingly lucid and straightforward depiction of this ostensibly "simple" scene forges the viewer access to Modersohn's perception of the Worpswede landscape.
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