The Sea I
Emil Nolde (German, 1867-1956)
On View

In the early 1910s Nolde painted a series of seascapes, pictures, as he described them, of “wildly heaving green waves,” inspired by a childhood on Germany’s North Sea coast and by one particularly violent crossing he had made as an adult. Among the exponents of German Expressionism—a term he found inadequate to the messianic mission of his art—Nolde was perhaps the most virtuosic painter. Here, for example, he conjured the foaming crests of waves with thick strokes of white paint, applied wet-into-wet, but rendered the fragile, billowing sailcloth with a transparent brown layer through which the texture of the canvas is plainly visible.


  • Artist Name: Emil Nolde (German, 1867-1956)
  • Title: The Sea I
  • Date: 1912
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 29 x 35 in. (73.7 x 88.9 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.2000.1.2.P
  • Copyright: © Nolde Stiftung Seebüll

Object Information

The artist, given for safe-keeping, 1941-45, to;
Margrit and Bernhard Sprengel, Hanover, returned to;
The artist, by descent to his nephew;
Emil Bonnichsen, Bylderup-Bov (Stemmilt), Denmark;
[Roman Norbert Ketterer, Lago di Lugano, Switzerland, sold 1969 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation (F.1969.16.3.P); sold 2000 to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Emil Nolde

  • Halle, Kunstverein, 1814-01 to 1914-02

Rohlfs, Nolde, Barlach

  • Kiel, Kunstverein, 1920 to 1920

XI Ausstellung

  • Munich, Neue Secession, 1925 to 1925

Emil Nolde

  • Anneberg-Nykøbing, Denmark, 1967-07-15 to 1967-08-28

Masterpieces of Five Centuries, Forty-Eight Paintings and Sculptures from the Norton Simon Foundation and the Norton Simon, Inc. Museum

  • Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, 1972-10-04 to 1973-11-04

The Blue Four and Their Contemporaries

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1991-06-20 to 1992-05-24

From Europe to California: Galka Scheyer and the Avant-Garde

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2003-05-16 to 2003-10-13
  • Ketterer, Roman Norbert, Moderne Kunst VI, no. 86 pp. 146-147
  • Urban, Martin, Emil Nolde: Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, 1987, no. 527 pp. 41, 461
  • Sherman, Marilyn, et al, Reading Literature, Purple Level, Grade 12, 1987, p. 131
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 184
  • Emil Nolde und die Sammlung Sprengel 1937 bis 1956: Geschichte einer Freundschaft, 1999, pp. 18, 80, 262
  • Understanding Paintings: Themes in Art Explored and Explained, 2000, p. 179
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 651 p. 323
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Dancing Girl Emil Nolde 1911
Egyptian Woman II Emil Nolde 1910
Flowers in a Vase Emil Nolde c. 1930

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