Old Mill

feiningermill

Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956),  Old Mill,  etching, 1911-12, signed, dated, and titled in pencil lower margin; Prasse E42. Also signed in the plate as “Leinoel Einfinger”; an impression from the Feininger estate, and with the estate stamp lower right. On beige laid paper, in good condition, with pale light and mat stain. With full margins, the plate is 5 3/8 x 8 3/8, the sheet 9 3/4 x 13 5/8 inches.

Lyonel Feininger was born in New York, in 1871, to parents who were distinguished concert musicians. He became an infant prodigy himself, studying piano and violin, and in 1887 was sent to Hamburg for further study. But he quickly decided to switch to art, and art schools, spending some time in Paris in 1892-3. On his return to Berlin he became a cartoonist and political caricaturist, a career he continued for about 14 years. In 1906 a lucrative contract with the Chicago Sunday Tribune enabled him to move to Paris for two years, where he decided to get serious artistically.

At just the same time as he was doing The Old Mill (Alte Windmuhle), he was becoming familiar with Cubism – the movement that was to be instrumental in shaping his work from then on. An abstract modernist, Lyonel Feininger was part of the founding of the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany in 1919 along with Walter Gropius. He stayed there for the next six years.During those years, he formed the group including Kandinsky and Klee known as the “Blue Four” and they exhibited in New York City and Germany. After he left Germany in the mid 1930s, several of his paintings that had been confiscated were shown in the Nazi government exhibition of “Degenerate Art” held in Munich in 1937. In 1937 he returned to the U.S permanently, where he had always maintained his citizenship, and became a resident of New York until his death in 1956.

The scene in Old Mill is Swinemunde, where the Swine flows into the Baltic Sea.