Liegendes Weib [Reclining Nude]
49.5 cm x 62.1 cm (19 1/2 in. x 24 7/16 in.)
(Near Nolde (now Burkal, Denmark), 1867 - 1956, Seebüll (Germany))
Medium and Support:
Etching and aquatint on iron
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Jack S. Blanton Curatorial Endowment Fund, 2002
Unusual in Emil Nolde’s oeuvre, the female nude served as the focus of ten prints executed between 1907 and 1908. Before this, Nolde’s print production consisted of boldly carved woodcuts, a medium he embraced for its references to the origins of printmaking and for its seeming naïveté. For similar reasons, he chose iron rather than copper plates for his etchings: the earliest etchings were made by German artists using iron plates. The quality of the metal lent a coarseness to the line that may have been problematic for Renaissance artists, but this kind of primitivism was exactly what Expressionist artists sought. That this impression is so rare—there were only about 18—signals the experimental nature of the artist’s efforts.
Unusually large, Nolde’s Liegendes Weib emerges from the gray tone of the ground to confront the viewer. Unlike the conventional nude, she does not offer herself in a pose of abandon, but leans forward on her folded arms and makes eye contact with the onlooker. Exploiting the crudeness of the line produced in an iron ground, the figure’s contours are sharp, irregular, broken, and discontinuous, seeming to violate the murky tone from which they have materialized.