Lovis Corinth was a talented painter of allegorical and religious subjects, portraits and landscapes. He
was also a versatile printmaker and a highly proficient painter of still lifes – a practice he kept up for
the whole of his artistic career.
In 1911 he suffered a stroke. His left hand was partially paralysed and his right hand subject to
intermittent tremors. This had a major impact on his pictorial style. Many of the floral still lifes of his
later years seem to be intoxicated with their own colour and, as in his famous Walchensee paintings,
form dissolves. Flower arrangements as subjects often serve as merely as a point of departure for
colour compositions of extraordinary freedom and fluidity where the naturalistic depiction of
flowers plays a minor role. Often, space too is dissolved and the effects of pure colour dominate.
As this Still Life of Flowers demonstrates, Corinth’s colours grew purer and their intensity strengthened.
His brushwork became increasingly expressive of his interior reality. Autonomous dabs and streaks of
colour now appeared as components of a more abstract, generalised structure. This cannot be
explained simply as a stylistic development. He had started out on a process of intense inquiry and
analysis, searching deeply into questions of existence, the transience of nature and the meaning of
beauty. He rejoices in painting wet upon wet, in painting colour upon colour, in smudging them and then stopping suddenly
allowing them to glow; there is a quality of rage in making all this into a picture, into forcing a vision to emerge. In his late
period he is engaged in a considerably higher level of abstraction than in many of his earlier works
and is explicitly a modernist in his interpretation of the natural world.
When Corinth first exhibited in Berlin in the early 1920s, his new style met with resounding critical
approval; he was hailed as a ‘genius’ and his new work was described as ‘astonishing’. A large
number of these paintings were selected to represent Germany at the 1922 Venice Biennale. They
were considered exemplary of the leading avant-garde painting of the period in Germany. His
artistic success came at a time of increasing introspection following the war years. The results of his ability to express his emotional turmoil in his work contributed to a major enrichment of his
This gouache was at one time owned by the art historian Alfred Kuhn (1885-1940), who very
probably acquired it directly from the artist. Corinth’s portrait of Kuhn was executed in the
same year as Still Life of Flowers. Kuhn published an important monograph on Corinth in 1925.