Holzfigur (Judas). 1913. Oil on canvas. Urban 548. Lower left signed. 88 x 38.5 cm (34.6 x 15.1 in). Mentioned in the artist's hand-written catalog raisonné "1910c no. 462" und "1930 '1913 Holzfigur(Judas)'. A preliminary drawing for the painting is in existence, it is much stronger geared to the medieval wood scultpure.
PROVENANCE: Hermann Krause, Halle (1926). Georg Zacharias, Düsseldorf. Wirtz-Häner, Düsseldorf. Christie's Düsseldorf, 14 November 1973, cat. no. 27 with illu. Private collection Krefeld.
EXHIBITION: Emil Nolde. Neue Kunst Fides, Dresden, August-September 1926.
Figures, masks and dolls are elements of Emil Nolde's paintings that are more common than one would guess. Emil Nolde was particularly fascinated by figures during the years before World War I, making them preferred subjects of his works, either individually or in groups. In this work it is a wooden sculpture from the Middle Ages, as sole object of the picture the three-dimensionality of the sculpture is taken to two-dimensional color field painting. Nolde's sense for the grotesque, which can be found on the mountain postcards from his St. Gallen days, is also expressed in this work. Judas is no longer isolated, a traitor, but a grinning individual who triumphantly carries the purse. The glaring colors underline his role as an outsider. This is a typical male figure in Nolde's sense. [KD]