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Erich Heckel

Roman House

watercolour on paper
1909
32,8 x 42,5 cm / 13 x 16 3/4 in.
signed and dated lower right, titled lower left

The watercolour was created in the spring of 1909. In February, Heckel had begun his journey to Italy, which took him to Rome via Verona, Padua, Venice, and Ravenna—his first major trip abroad, which he financed himself. He was very fond of the light, the colours, and the classic Italian monuments. Heckel worked intensively in his own studio and created many drawings, watercolours, and some oil paintings, totalling at least 130 works during his four-month stay (some of which may have been created after his return to Germany). His trip to Italy was a significant milestone in Heckel’s oeuvre, which even years later he emphasized, stating: “It must be very important for us to have seen this southern, rich country, to have experienced its high standard of artworks, since one’s . . . gaze is sharpened for one’s own task in the fatherland.” The artist painted the watercolour, showing a yellow-painted villa, most likely in situ. This is suggested by the composition, outlined with only a few dark brushstrokes and by the spontaneous, sweeping application of colour. Later, the artist executed the painting “Houses near Rome, in which he placed the yellow villa in larger surroundings. While the painting may be more colourful, it lacks the spontaneity of the watercolour.

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