Max Pechstein first visited Nidden, a small fishing village in the easternmost part of the Baltic coast in what was then East Prussia, in the summer of 1909. Pechstein travelled to this remote location away from the bustle of city life seeking greater contact with nature and the opportunity to devote himself – in his own words – to ‘free creativity’. During that summer, which was highly productive, the artist succeeded in consolidating and refining his personal style of painting. This new language combines the feeling of freedom the faraway place gave him and the new possibilities opened up by the Expressionist group Die Brücke and also by the French Fauves during his stay in Paris in 1908.
At Nidden he chiefly painted the landscapes surrounding the coastal lagoon separated from the sea by a narrow strip of land, the Kurische Nehrung (Curonian Spit), among them Haff (Lagoon). However, he also depicted the boats with their tall masts and sails, the dunes, the pine forests, and the down-to-earth locals and their typical wooden houses. In these pictures, executed with great spontaneity in an attempt to capture the bare essentials, the use of colour gains considerable autonomy and key importance in the composition. The artist achieves highly luminous effects through contrasts of complementary colours.
Underlying Pechstein’s works is the sensation of plenitude and at oneness with nature he experienced at Nidden, as he confessed in his Memoirs: ‘feeling my way towards nature, the mighty shifting sand dunes and the lagoon, […] for the very first time, I experienced the intoxicating and never-ending rhythm of the sea’.