© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

A founding member of the expressionist group Brücke, Heckel depicts his fiancée, the dancer Siddi Riha, propped up against pillows and covered by a large throw, convalescing after a long illness. Although the figure recalls an exotic odalisque, its surroundings reflect the bohemian interiors inhabited by many expressionist artists. The African textile that serves as a backdrop was a gift from the artist’s brother, while the wooden figure to the far left and the vase with sunflowers are also inspired by tribal art, and are most likely examples of Heckel’s own roughly hewn wooden sculpture. In this ornamental studio surrounding, the convalescent’s thin frame and angular physiognomy — which appears as if it, too, were carved from wood — also evoke the spirit of the Gothic. The tripartite format suggests a relationship to the medieval altarpiece in the Christian tradition, while the large size of the three combined canvases lends the private interior space public proportions.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
BR50.415
People
Erich Heckel, German (Döbeln, Germany 1883 - 1970 Radolfzell, Germany)
Title
To the Convalescent Woman (Triptych)
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Zur Genesung der kranken Frau (Triptychon)
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
1912-1913
Culture
German
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/180133
Location
Level 1, Room 1440, Modern and Contemporary Art, Secessionism: Munich, Vienna, Berlin
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
framed: 98.7 x 244.8 x 4.4 cm (38 7/8 x 96 3/8 x 1 3/4 in.)
left panel: 80.7 x 70.3 cm (31 3/4 x 27 11/16 in.)
center panel: 81.3 x 70.5 cm (32 x 27 3/4 in.)
right panel: 80.5 x 70.3 cm (31 11/16 x 27 11/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: on center panel at u.l.: E Heckel 13
  • label: on upper stretcher at l., ink on paper, typewritten: NY 1951 // Erich Heckel // Convalescent, triptych // BUCHHOLZ GALLERY // Curt Valentin // 32 East 57St., NYC
  • label: upper stretcher, at r., ink on paper: 1301 (crossed out)
  • stamp: upper, left and right stretchers, ink: MUSEUM // FOLKWANG // ESSEN
  • inscription: verso at u.l., oil, handwritten, in artist's hand: Erich Heckel
  • label: lower stretcher, at l., ink on paper: 741 (crossed out)
  • inscription: on lower stretcher at r., ink: Stiftung Dr. Kaesbach (upside down)
Provenance
Dr. Walter Kaesbach, Mönchengladbach, sold?; to Museum Folkwang Essen, 1930, removed from the collection by the National Socialist (Nazi) authorities, 1937, sold; [Buchholz Gallery, New York], sold; to Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1950.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Edmée Busch Greenough Fund
Copyright
© Erich Heckel / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Germany
Accession Year
1950
Object Number
BR50.415
Division
Modern and Contemporary Art
Contact
am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Perry T. Rathbone, In Memory of Curt Valentin 1902-1954: An Exhibition of Modern Masterpieces Lent by American Museums, exh. cat. (New York, NY, 1954), n.p., cat. 9, ill. (b/w)

Peter Selz, German Expressionist Painting, University of California Press (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, 1957), p. 137, plate 46, ill.

Charles Werner Haxthausen, "The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard: the Germanic Tradition", Apollo (May 1978), vol. 107, no. 195, pp. 403-413, p. 410, repr. p. 408 as fig. 3 [all three parts of triptych]

Expressionism: A German Intuition 1905-1920, exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (New York, 1980), pp. 110-111, cat. 96, ill. (b/w)

Christos M. Joachimides, Norman Rosenthal, and Wieland Schmied, ed., German Art in the 20th Century: Painting and Sculpture 1905-1985, exh. cat., Prestel Verlag (Munich and London, 1985), p. 24, fig. 5, ill. (b/w)

Caroline A. Jones, Modern Art at Harvard: The Formation of the Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press, 1985). With an essay by John Coolidge and a preface by John M. Rosenfield. To accompany the inaugural exhibition at the Sackler Museum, Oct 21 1985 - Jan 5 1986, p. 47, fig. 35, ill. (color)

Harvard University Art Museums, Masterpieces of world art : Fogg Art Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1997

M. M. Moeller, ed., Die großen Expressionisten: Meisterwerke und Künstlerleben, Dumant Buchverlag (Cologne, 2000), p. 31, color illus.

Sabrina Abate Detmar, "Drei Beispiele von Frauendarstellung in Bildern des Primitivismus : Paul Gauguins "Poèmes barbares", 1896, Erich Heckels "Genesende", 1913 und Emil Noldes "Mulattin", 1913" (2004)

Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), pp. 168-169

Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 202, ill.

Mary Ann Wilkinson, Erich Heckel's Woman (Portrait of the Artist's Wife), Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, 2009), p. 59, fig. 3, ill (b&w)

"Das schoenste Museum der Welt" Museum Folkwang bis 1933, exh. cat., Steidl and Edition Folkwang (Essen, 2010), pp. 86, 350, 359, fig. 31, ill. (color)

Hermann Gerlinger and Thomas Bauer-Friedrich, Inspiration des Fremden: Die Brücke-Maler und die aussereuropäische Kunst, exh. cat., Sandstein Verlag (Halle, Germany, 2016), p. 61, fig. 3, ill. (color)

Exhibition History

In Memory of Curt Valentin 1902-1954: An Exhibition of Modern Masterpieces Lent by American Museums, Curt Valentin Gallery, 10/05/1954 - 10/30/1954

Expressionism: A German Intuition, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 11/14/1980 - 01/18/1981; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 02/19/1981 - 04/26/1981

"The Most Beautiful Museum in the World" Museum Folkwang until 1933, Museum Folkwang Essen, Essen, 03/20/2010 - 07/25/2010

Erich Heckel - Setting Out and Tradition. A Retrospective, Brücke-Museum Berlin, Berlin (Dahlem), 09/19/2010 - 01/16/2011

32Q: 1440 Secessionism: Munich, Vienna, Berlin (Expressionism), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu