Emil Nolde (1867 - 1956)
Vase with Poppies (1907)
oil on canvas, 18.11 x 13.58 in. (46 x 34.50 cm)
Emil Nolde’s Vase with Poppies, painted in 1907, was bought by Dr. Georg Koch from the artist himself in Wiesbaden, Germany. Born in Mainz, Germany in 1890, Dr. Koch was the son of Moritz II Koch, a wine merchant, and Sophie Levy. After serving in World War I, he became a doctor, working first at the Municipal Maternity Clinic, then the Infants’ Maternity Hospital, both in Wiesbaden. In 1919 he married Anna Lotte Seeligmann, of Karlsruhe, Germany, the daughter of lawyer Arnold Seeligmann and his wife Rosalie Meyer.
Together, Georg and Lotte amassed a fine collection of art, including works by artists Alexej Jawlensky, Christian Rohlfs, and of course Emil Nolde. As a prominent Jewish family in Germany, they were persecuted by the Nazi government. Georg sadly died in May 1933, leaving behind his widow Lotte and their two children Eleonore and Herbert. The children managed to emigrate to London in 1938, with their mother following close behind in 1939. Lotte’s parents were not so lucky, as they were deported in October 1940 to Gurs, France, with 900 other Jewish people from Karlsruhe. Rosalie died there two months later, most likely from typhus, and Arnold soon followed.
In the wake of their emigration to England, the Kochs had packaged their art collection as removal goods and sent it to be stored in the port of Hamburg, or Überseehafen. It was reported that the collection had been destroyed in a fire, however this is unlikely due to the re-emergence of the Nolde in the 1980s. The collection was most likely seized and sold off by the Gestapo, and eventually made its way into the Kröger collection in Elmshorn, Germany. From there it entered a private collection in Kiel, Germany, before being offered for sale at Christie’s, London, in 1985 as lot 213. The painting failed to sell, and was sent to Salzburg, Austria, where it was sold at Galerie Salis & Vertis.
The painting has not appeared on the market since, however the knowledge that it was not destroyed in Hamburg gives hope for the rest of Georg and Lotte Koch’s collection, which includes porcelain, pewter, faience, steel and copper engravings, hand-painted miniatures, and a wood-carved Madonna.