Couple, Emil Nolde
Emil Nolde
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Emil Nolde

Couple, 1931 – 1934

530 x 365 mm
Physical Description
Watercolour and pen and black ink on Japanese wove paper
Inventory Number
SG 2948
Object Number
SG 2948 Z
Can be presented in the study room of the Graphische Sammlung (special opening hours)


About the Work

Between 1931 and 1935, Nolde carried out a series of watercolours he called "Fantasies". This workgroup contains numerous double portraits in the form of encounters between a woman and a man, as in the watercolour Couple. The artist composed the depiction from countless dabs and bands of colour intersecting and overlapping so densely as to develop an intense sense of depth. He also allowed chance to intervene in the painting process, for example by integrating the unintended splotches made by his paint-soaked brush at the upper right.

About the Acquisition

From 1900 onwards, the Frankfurt chemist and industrialist Carl Hagemann (1867‒1940) assembled one of the most important private collections of modern art. It included numerous paintings, drawings, watercolours and prints, especially by members of the artist group “Die Brücke”. After Carl Hagemann died in an accident during the Second World War, the then Städel director Ernst Holzinger arranged for Hagemann’s heirs to evacuate his collection with the museum’s collection. In gratitude, the family donated almost all of the works on paper to the Städel Museum in 1948. Further donations and permanent loans as well as purchases of paintings and watercolours from the Hagemann estate helped to compensate for the losses the museum had suffered in 1937 as part of the Nazi’s “Degenerate Art” campaign. Today, the Hagemann Collection forms the core of the Städel museum’s Expressionist collection.

Work Data

Basic Information

Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Watercolour and pen and black ink on Japanese wove paper
Geographic Reference
Production Reason
Label at the Time of Manufacture
Signiert unten rechts (mit der Feder in Schwarz): Nolde.
Captions Added Later
Verso unten links Stempel der Städtischen Galerie, Frankfurt am Main (Lugt 2371c), mit zugehöriger Inventarnummer
  • Nicht vorhanden

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
© Nolde Stiftung Seebüll

Work Content

Motifs and References

Main Motif


  • 61B112 anonymous historical persons portrayed in a double portrait
  • 61BB112 anonymous historical persons portrayed in a double portrait - BB - woman
  • 33 relations between individual persons

Research and Discussion


Object History
Emil Nolde
Verkauf an Carl Hagemann (1867-1940), Frankfurt am Main, 1934 oder später
Nachlass Carl Hagemann, 1940
erworben von der Städtischen Galerie, Frankfurt am Main, 1951.


Since 2001, the Städel Museum has systematically been researching the provenance of all objects that were acquired during the National Socialist period, or that changed owners or could have changed owners during those years. The basis for this research is the “Washington Declaration”, also known as the “Washington Conference Principles”, formulated at the 1998 “Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets” and the subsequent “Joint Declaration”.

The provenance information is based on the sources researched at the time they were published digitally. However, this information can change at any time when new sources are discovered. Provenance research is therefore a continuous process and one that is updated at regular intervals.

Ideally, the provenance information documents an object’s origins from the time it was created until the date when it found its way into the collection. It contains the following details, provided they are known:

  • the type of acquisition and/or the way the object changed hands
  • the owner's name and place of residence
  • the date on which it changed hands

The successive ownership records are separated from each other by a semicolon.

Gaps in the record of a provenance are indicated by the placeholder “…”. Unsupported information is listed in square brackets.

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