oil on canvas
60 x 54,4 cm (23 5/8 x 21 1/2 in.)
signed and dated lower right verso on the stretcher titled and inscribed 'Emil Nolde'
Only a few portraits by Emil Nolde are designated by name or provided with a reference to the identity of the people represented. Although the title “Stine und Mathilde” reveals the first names of the two protagonists, further information is not to be found. These are probably children of the neighbours on the south Danish Baltic island of Alsen, where the newly wed Ada and Emil Nolde spent the summer months in a small fisherman’s house as of 1903. The girls in summer clothing with brilliant yellow straw hats sit close to one another in the garden. They merge with the flower beds and the green of the background in a radiant, glimmering sea of colour, to the extent that they appear to dissolve in it. Each stroke of the brush speaks of freedom in expression, of abstraction, complexity and modernity. Emil Nolde had previously occupied himself with the painting methods and the motifs of neo-impressionism, the free, spontaneous transcription of which he allowed to flow into his painting. He approached colour both in its power of expression and in its emotional emanation: “There was a difficult wrestling with colour, with the media, the technical. Everything adopted, nothing learned; everything had to be as if reinvented”, he wrote in his biography. He achieved this masterfully with “Stine und Mathilde”. From this point on, colour was at the centre of Nolde’s art as his actual means of expression.