© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Werner Heldt, German (Berlin, Germany 1904 - 1954 Sant'Angelo, Naples, Italy)
Still Life at the Window
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Stilleben am Fenster
Former Title: Still life on the Balcony (Still Life at the Window with a Medallion)
Former Title: Stilleben auf dem Balkon (Stilleben am Fenster mit Medaillon)
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
58 × 70 cm (22 13/16 × 27 9/16 in.)
framed: 78.3 × 90.5 × 5.5 cm (30 13/16 × 35 5/8 × 2 3/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.l., in black paint: WH 50; On verso in black paint: WERNER HELDT
  • inscription: on verso, in blue paint: WERNER HELDT / "Stilleben am Fenster" / 1950
Private collection (1957). Nachlass Werner Heldt (1968, 1976). [Galerie Brusberg, Berlin (2003). Private collection. [Galerie Haas AG, Zurich], sold; to the Busch-Reisinger Museum, 2017.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Purchase in memory of Eda K. Loeb
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Label Text: Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55 , written 2018
Heldt began his definitive series Berlin am Meer (Berlin by the Sea) in 1940 as a “metaphor for the transiency of human production.” Exemplary of his work, Still Life at the Window depicts green and white waves swelling and crashing through the city. A building in the background, treated with the artist’s signature marbled palette-knife technique, represents the city’s characteristic firewalls. The titular still life sits atop a striped tablecloth on a balcony, the liminal space between inside and out. The scene seems to stubbornly resist giving over to the impending flood, a deluge that—according to Heldt—would cause everything manmade, from household objects to architecture, to return to nature. In the two years before Heldt’s untimely death, his work became increasingly abstract; he further reduced
his buildings to rectangles and introduced organic, curving lines. Technical examination of Still Life at the Window confirmed what preparatory drawings and visible pentimenti had suggested: the abstract form in the lower left corner began as a piece of fruit, marking
the canvas as a key transitional work.

Publication History

Werner Heldt: Gemalde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, exh. cat., Haus am Waldsee (Berlin, 1954), No. 34

Werner Heldt, exh. cat., Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (Hannover and Berlin, 1957), No. 74

Werner Heldt: Malerei und Zeichnungen, exh. cat., Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (Düsseldorf, 1968), No. 74

Werner Heldt: Oeuvre-Katalog der Bilder von Heldt 1920-1954, Kestner-Gesellschaft Hannover (1968), Kat. 6

Wieland Schmied, Werner Heldt, DuMont (Cologne, 1976), No. 648

Werner Heldt, exh. cat., Galerie Michael Haas (Berlin, 2017), Cover, pp. 50-51, ill. (color)

Lynette Roth and Ilka Voermann, Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2018), pp. 23, 53-54, 171-172, fig. 18, ill. (color)

Exhibition History

Werner Heldt: Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Haus am Waldsee, 11/17/1954 - 12/15/1954

Werner Heldt, Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover, 05/07/1957 - 06/10/1957

Werner Heldt (Retrospektive), Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover, 03/08/1968 - 04/07/1968

Werner Heldt: Malerei und Zeichnungen, Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 09/27/1968 - 11/10/1968

Werner Heldt, Hans Uhlmann: Berliner Dialoge, Galerie Brusberg, 01/25/2003 - 03/29/2003

Werner Heldt, Galerie Michael Haas, 01/27/2017 - 03/18/2017

Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/09/2018 - 06/03/2018

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