Skip to main content

Village on the Sea

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, German, 1884–1976
Oil on canvas
Made in
Nida, Lithuania, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 242
30 1/4 x 35 3/4 in. (76.8 x 90.8 cm)
framed: 37 7/8 x 43 3/8 x 3 7/8 in. (96.2 x 110.2 x 9.8 cm)
Credit Line
Bequest of Morton D. May
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Object Number
Zigzags and stripes resolve into the triangular rooftops of houses, balloon-like poplar trees, and rolling pine forests. The Baltic Sea appears as a backdrop to the fishing village and artist colony of Nidden (present-day Nida, Lithuania), where Karl Schmidt-Rottluff stayed with Max Pechstein for four months in 1913. The paintings Schmidt-Rottluff made at Nidden transformed his art. Inspired by the landscape, he began to outline his motifs in black and repeat them as generic types for natural objects, giving his art a more patterned look.
1919 - 1937
Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany, purchased from the artist [1]

1937/07/07 -
German National Socialist (Nazi) government, confiscated as "degenerate" from the Nationalgalerie, Berlin, July 7, 1937 [2]

1939 - 1950
Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), New York, NY, USA [3]

1950 - 1983
Morton D. May (1914-1983), St. Louis, MO, purchased from Buchholz Gallery [4]

1983 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, bequest of Morton D. May [5]

[1] This painting was purchased from the artist by the Nationalgalerie, Berlin in 1919 [Janda, Annegret and Jörn Grabowski. "Kunst in Deutschland 1905-1937: Die verlorene Sammlung der Nationalgalerie im ehemaligen Kronprinzen-Palais, Dokumentation." Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1992, p. 194; Moeller, Magdalena M. and Hans-Werner Schmidt. "Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: Der Maler." Stuttgart: Verlag Gerd Hatje, 1992, p. 238]. A 1933 photograph shows the work hanging in the Kronprinzen-Palais, Berlin, a location used by the Nationalgalerie, Berlin to exhibit its collection of modern art [Barron, Stephanie, ed. "'Degenerate Art': The Fate of the Avant-garde in Nazi Germany." Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1991, p. 105-119]. The painting remained on view there until the closing of the Kronprinzen-Palais in 1936, as documented by Janda and Grabowski.

[2] The painting was seized from the Nationalgalerie, Berlin on July 7, 1937, as part of the National Socialist campaign against so-called degenerate art. It was assigned inventory number 16107, and exhibited in the fifth room at the "Degenerate Art" exhibition in Munich in 1937 [Barron, p. 45-81, 111].

[3] According to the publications by Janda and Grabowski, and Moeller and Schmidt (see note [1]), Buchholz purchased the painting in 1939.

[4] May purchased the painting (titled "Landscape") from Buchholz Gallery on July 5, 1950 [bill of sale, SLAM document files]. Later that same year, the painting was included in an exhibition at the University Gallery, University of Minnesota, as lent by Mr. and Mrs. Morton D. May ["German Expressionism in Art: 1905-1935." Minneapolis: University Gallery, University of Minnesota, October 23 - November 27, 1950, no. 117].

A 1970 exhibition catalogue on the May collection, which includes this painting, contains erroneous provenance – indicating that May purchased the work from E. Weyhe, New York, in 1952 ["The Morton D. May Collection of 20th Century German Masters." New York: Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, 1970, cat. 119]. To make matters more confusing, there is in fact a June 10, 1952 invoice to May from E. Weyhe for a Schmidt-Rottluff work titled "Kustenlandschaft," although no medium, date, or provenance is indicated on the invoice. It is clear, however, from all other records maintained by Morton D. May, and the fact that he lent it to the earlier 1950 exhibition, that the painting was purchased from Buchholz Gallery, and not E. Weyhe Gallery [May Archives, Saint Louis Art Museum].

[5] Last Will and Testament of M. D. May dated June 11, 1982 [copy, May Archives, Saint Louis Art Museum]. Minutes of the Acquisitions and Loans Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, September 20, 1983.
Scroll back to top