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His Most Famous Print (The Prophet) – Emil Nolde


Emil Nolde (1867-1956) was a German ‘Expressionist’ painter and printmaker. ‘Expressionism’ is an art movement in which the concepts were derived from nature, the figures deformed or magnified, and the colors were heightened. Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein, and Otto Mueller were the key frontrunners of ‘Expressionism’ and the trio went on to join the ‘Expressionist’ group ‘Die Brucke (The Bridge, 1905).’ Emil’s works, including “The Prophet” carried the influences of his own experiences, trait typical of ‘Expressionism.’ Some of his most famous works were:

o The Prophet (woodcut)

o Portrait of a Young Woman and a Child

o Portrait of a Man

o Portrait of a Young Girl

o Young Couple

“The Prophet” is the most famous woodcut of Nolde, as well as the best in the world until date. Woodcut refers to a carved block of wood from which prints are made. “The Prophet” symbolizes wild and furious pain in the painting. Emil created this after recovering from a serious illness. After the recovery, he was inspired to create paintings on spirituality and he also started taking references from the Bible segments. “The Prophet” was one such piece in the post-recovery, spiritual series.

Nolde’s prints had simple lines or stained glass colors that highlighted his free life, regardless of any conventional rules, regulations, and practices. He frequently used a tinge of yellow and red color in his works. His paintings were mostly based on demonic heads, mysterious appearances, and religious figures such as in “The Prophet,” reflecting the artist’s inclination for the ancient & eternal feelings.

Created in 1912 and measuring 12 5/8″ x 8 3/4″ (32.1 x 22.2 cm), the German Expressionist work, “The Prophet,” remains a masterpiece of the twentieth century art. Its print comes out the best on Japanese paper, the availability of which is scarce. Emil’s most famous print has only black & white color pattern, portraying a religious figure. “The Prophet” is shown to have overgrown hair and beard, the face is calmly depressed, and eyes & cheeks are sunken, showing Prophet’s personal negligence. Emil’s most famous print is intense, despite being speechless. Undoubtedly, “The Prophet” generates and establishes a deep feeling of spirituality on the viewers. “The Prophet’s” face, though its darkness and explicitness, acts as a playground of human pain and suffering. Emil Nolde, in all his works, always wished dearly that they should convey his messages with clarity.


Source by Annette Labedzki

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