Stormy Sea (Nolde)

Stormy Sea is a landscape painting with watercolor by German painter Emil Nolde, executed in 1930, on 34x 45 cm paper. This piece has very organic lines and there are many spots of bright colors, in particular blues and oranges. There are two boats on the horizon and a steam boat off to the right side which is a nod to modernism and industrialization. The bright fiery orange on the horizon gives a sense of drama to the piece and the white color in the foreground shows the crests of the moving waves. The waves juxtaposed against the fiery horizon animate the painting, and the colors help to depict the tumultuous waves. The orange light in the sky imbues energy and excitement against the dark blue waters.

The painting is now in the collection of the Sprengel Museum in Hanover, Germany.

Nolde's techniqueEdit

Nolde elevated watercolor far above the level of a specialized technique and achieved works of breathtaking and ephemeral beauty which stand unique in the history of twentieth-century art.[1] His use of color conveys movement and emotion, and the mysterious quality of painting is typical of the Die Brücke style. Watercolor is a medium that Nolde liked because he could translate his ideas and concepts to creation faster than oil painting which requires that it is drawn out and planned before it is put on canvas.[2]

Nolde said about his paintings, “To the annoyance of art historians I shall destroy all lists that give information about the dates of my pictures.”[3] His wife, Ada Nolde, kept a precise catalog of his oil paintings but not of his watercolors.

Nolde's receptionEdit

His work was denounced by Hitler in World War II as Degenerate Art. Hitler condemned modern art and especially art by Jewish artists to be degenerate.

Emil Nolde was heavily censored even though he was a German citizen. During this time many of his works were removed from exhibitions at German museums and he was heavily censored by the Nazi party during the 1930s and 1940s.[Oxford Art online 1]

Nolde’s landscapes are not mere pictures of mood or reflections of the changing atmosphere of a year or of a day, but are truly ‘landscapes of the soul’, the free and direct expression of artistic and human experience.[4] He expresses true feeling and emotion with the fluidity and bright colors present in his watercolors. Nolde was able to create work faster through watercolor and he could go straight from concept to creation immediately unlike with oil painting which he had to plan out. Watercolor was Nolde’s primary medium from the 1930s until his death, and he used it to create Stormy Sea.


  1. ^ Selz,"Emile Nolde,"68.
  2. ^ Peter Selz,"Emile Nolde,"60.
  3. ^ Peter Selz,"Emile Nolde,"67.
  4. ^ Martin Urban," Emile Nolde Landscapes:Watercolors and Drawings,"7.
  1. ^ Lloyd, Jill. "Emil Nolde". Oxford University Press. Retrieved March 24, 2014.

External linksEdit

  • Selz, Peter(1963)."Emile Nolde". New York:Doubleday&CO.INC.
  • Jill Lloyd, "Nolde, Emil." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed March 24, 2014,
  • Urban, Martin(1970)."Emile Nolde Landscapes:Watercolors and Drawings".New York:Praeger Publishers, INC.