Skip to content

Artists’ colony Nida – Painting in nature

Heikendorf, GER
8.6. - 1.9.2024
  • Screenshot

  • Screenshot

Arists’ colony Nida – Painting in nature / Künstlerkolonie Nidden – Malen in freier Natur

The Curonian Spit is so strange that you might as well have seen it as Spain and Italy, if you don’t want to miss a marvellous should be missing. (Wilhelm v. Humboldt 1809, in a letter to his wife). In the 1890s, the artists’ colony of Nidden in what was then East Prussia, now Nida in Lithuania. This colony is often referred to as the “Worpswede of the East”. Until the end of the Second World War II, the painters came to the Curonian Spit, the narrow Curonian Spit, the narrow stretch of land between the between the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon, to the fishing and seaside resort of Nidden. They travelled from nearby Königsberg, where many of them had studied at the local academy of art there or, like Ludwig Dettmann even taught landscape painting.

But artists from Berlin and Dresden also stayed in Nidden from time to time; besides Lovis Corinth such important expressionists such as Max Pechstein and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. The writer Thomas Mann built himself a holiday home in Nidden and spent the summers from summers from 1930 to 1932 as a guest on the spit. His neighbour on the Schwiegermutterberg was the painter Carl Knauf (b. 1893) from the Rhineland (born 1893), who lived in Nidden until his early death in 1944. The founding of the Nidden artists’ colony took place at a time when time when similar artist groups were forming all over Europe. Far away from the big cities artists have been able to spend the summer months in places with an attractive natural and cultural landscapes to draw inspiration from their surroundings.

Some of them found accommodation in the local inns. In Nidden they stayed at the inn of Hermann Blode, who was often referred to as the “artist father”. The inn was opened in 1867 and still exists today. The artists had their own artists’ corner where they could socialise and debate. Among these guests was the expressionist Ernst Mollenhauer, who later became Blode’s son-in-law. Open-air painting, i.e. experiencing and capturing what he saw directly in nature, in all weathers and at different times of day and seasons, was of great importance to the painters. With its special geographical location, the then still original fishing village of Nidden offered the ideal conditions for a holiday detached from the hustle and bustle and progress.

The artists captured the motifs they sought and found on the Curonian Spit in a variety of ways in the open air: the extraordinary light, the rhythm of the sea, the Curonian barges with their typical pennants, the fishermen’s houses with their blue roofs and the simple life of their inhabitants, the impressive dune landscape and the cemetery with its heavy wooden crosses. In other words, it was the undisturbedness of a simple existence and the originality of a landscape characterised by light and vastness. The exhibition conveys an impression of this with a diverse selection of oil paintings and works on paper from the East Prussian State Museum in Lüneburg.

In addition to works by Knauf and Mollenhauer, you can expect to see works by Ernst Bischoff-Culm, Ottilie Ehlers Kollwitz, Gerhard Eisenblätter, Gertrud Lerbs, Fritz Moeller-Schlünz, Heinrich Wolff and other artists.

Ernst Mollenhauer, Fischer oder Fahrt in die Sonne, Öl auf Papier, 1945
Ostpreußisches Landesmuseum Lüneburg

Ernst Bischoff-Culm, Reisigsammlerin, 1906-08, Öl auf Leinwand
Ostpreußisches Landesmuseum Lüneburg