Fishermen and Sailboats on the Beach, Ernst Wilhelm Nay
Ernst Wilhelm Nay
Fishermen and Sailboats on the Beach
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Ernst Wilhelm Nay

Fishermen and Sailboats on the Beach, 1935

480 x 635 mm
Physical Description
Reed pen and black ink on laid paper
Inventory Number
Object Number
16105 Z
Can be presented in the study room of the Graphische Sammlung (special opening hours)


About the Work

In the summer of 1935, Ernst Wilhelm Nay withdrew to the little village of Vietzkerstrand on the coast of the Baltic Sea in Pomerania. There he resumed a series of works depicting dunes and fishermen he had begun a year earlier. This drawing is an example; in it, he has depicted the fishermen as stylized, two-dimensional figures consisting merely of contours without interior detail. Simple overlapping curves form the waves of the sea. In 1958, he recalled the pathbreaking character of the workgroup: “In those pictures […], the complex of primal forms in conjunction with rhythm and dynamic turned up that would become the true formal theme of my art as a whole.” [1]

[1] Ernst Wilhelm Nay: Aufzeichnungen, 1958, in: E. W. Nay. Retrospektive / A Retrospective, Ausst.-Kat., Josef-Haubrich-Kunsthalle Köln 1990/91, Kunsthalle Basel 1991, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Edinburgh 1991,

Köln 1990, S. 25–38, hier S. 29.

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

Fishermen and Sailboats on the Beach
Production Place
Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Reed pen and black ink on laid paper
Geographic Reference
Production Reason
Label at the Time of Manufacture
Signiert und datiert unten rechts (mit Bleistift): EW Nay 35
Captions Added Later
Verso Stempel des Städelschen Kunstinstituts, Frankfurt am Main (Lugt 2356), mit zugehöriger Inventarnummer
  • Hahnemühle, INGRES
Work Catalogues
  • Claesges 2012.I.50.35-010

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
© Elisabeth Nay-Scheibler, Köln / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023

Work Content

Motifs and References



  • 46C2237 ships, boats on land, beached
  • 46C24 sailing-ship, sailing-boat

Research and Discussion


Object History
Ernst Wilhelm Nay (1902-1968)
an Carl Hagemann (1867-1940), Frankfurt, 1935
Nachlass Carl Hagemann, 1940
Schenkung der Erben an das Städelsche Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, 1948.


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.

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