signed and dated 'G. Münter 08' (lower right); signed and inscribed 'Münter Staffelsee.' (on the reverse)
oil on board
1938 x 2558 in. (49.3 x 65.1 cm.)
Painted in 1908
The artist's estate.
Franz Resch, Gauting.
Georg Schäfer, Schweinfurt; sale, Christie's London, 27 June 1978, lot 1.
Private collection, and thence by descent to the present owner in 2003.
Dresden, Kunstsalon Emil Richter.
Copenhagen, Ny Kunstsal, Maleriudstilling Gabriele Münter-Kandinsky, October 1919, no. 1, n.p. (titled 'Landskab med sø').
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, The Société Anonyme: International Exhibition, November 1926 - January 1927, no. 59, n.p. (titled 'Clearing After the Storm').
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Lot Essay

The work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Gabriele Münter's painting being prepared by the Gabriele Münter- und Johannes Eichner-Stiftung.

As a founding member of Der Blaue Reiter and one of very few women working at the centre of Munich’s avant-garde circle, Münter played a significant role in charting the emergence of a new visual vocabulary in modern art. From a young age, Münter yearned to be an artist, and, in 1901, she enrolled in the experimental Phalanx School. Co-founded by Wassily Kandinsky, the school was one of the only places in Germany where women could study alongside men. In Kandinsky, Münter found a mentor that truly enabled her development as an artist; he recognized her natural talent and encouraged her progress.

Shortly thereafter, Münter became intimately involved with the married Kandinsky. From 1903-1907, she travelled extensively with him through Europe and North Africa, where she familiarized herself with the aesthetic ideas of Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, the Fauves and Henri Matisse—influences that would emerge in her painting after the couple returned to Germany in April 1908. Once back in Munich, Münter and Kandinsky began touring the Bavarian countryside in search of a place to spend time together. They visited the areas of Starnberger See and Staffelsee, where they came across the village of Murnau. The picturesque location of Murnau in the rolling hills by the Staffelsee, with its view of the Wetterstein Alps, presented a compelling visual environment for the artists. Münter and Kandinsky joined their artist friends Marianne von Werefkin and Alexej von Jawlensky, and together painted the village and surrounding landscape, contributing to a new phase of undisturbed and intense creativity for all four artists.

During this first stay, the group worked intensively together to forge a new type of painting characterized by its bold simplification, flattened spatial perspective and vivid use of colour. Münter's paintings, along with the work of her artist companions, underwent a massive transformation in Murnau. The swift transition in her art towards a distillation of form was almost immediate, “After a short period of agony,” she later recalled, “I took a great leap forward—from copying nature—in a more or less Impressionist style—to feeling the content of things—abstracting—conveying an extract" (quoted in A. Hoberg, Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter: Letters and Reminiscences, 1902-1914, Munich, 1994, p. 14). This profound change of style in Münter's art was inspired by the expressivity and sincerity found in children's artwork, which she had begun to collect in 1908, and the outlined planes of pure colour found in the traditional Bavarian glass painting common to Murnau. Jawlensky, who was well acquainted with the Pont-Aven school of artists and the Nabis, also played a major part in the evolution of her new style, introducing the idea of "synthesis" between the observable world and an expressive response to form and colour.

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