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Nudes and Eunuch: Keeper of the Harem

Artist Emil Nolde (German, 1867–1956)
Title Nudes and Eunuch: Keeper of the Harem (Akte und Eunuch (Haremswächter))
Date 1912
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions Overall: 34 3/8 x 28 3/8 in. (87.3 x 72.1 cm)
Framed: 42 1/2 x 36 1/4 x 2 5/8 in. (108 x 92.1 x 6.7 cm)
Credit Line Jane and Roger Wolcott Memorial, Gift of Thomas T. Solley, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 76.70

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About this Work

Nolde joined the Dresden-based Expressionist group Brücke (Bridge) in 1906, attracted by the group’s interest in the Oceanic art on display in the ethnographic museums of Berlin and Dresden. Employing vigorous brushwork and garish color, Nolde and the other Brücke artists sought to infuse their work with the dynamism and energy they perceived in non-western art. Nudes and Eunuch is an Expressionist rendition of a harem scene, a subject which had long connoted exoticism for European artists and audiences. Although he admired some non-western cultures, Nolde, like his contemporaries, viewed them through the lens of colonialism, assuming they were timeless and unsophisticated.

1976, Indiana University Art Museum purchase from Harry C. Nail, Jr., San Francisco, CA, with funds from Thomas T. Solley

1970–1976, Collection of Harry C. Nail, Jr., San Francisco, CA (purchase from Karen Marie Dinesen)

1939–1970, Lystrup collection, Copenhagen, Denmark. Hans Lystrup purchase from Aage Vilstrup. Then by inheritance to his daughter Karen Marie Dinesen of Stubbekøbin, Denmark.

May 1939, Purchase by Aage Vilstrup, Hellerup, Denmark, from Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, Berlin, Germany [1]

July 8, 1937-May 5, 1939, Possession of German authorities (Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, Berlin, Germany). Removed from Städtisches Museum, Halle, during Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) campaign. Displayed in five venues of the "Degenerate Art" exhibition (July 1937-October 1938). From October 1938 to May 1939, stored at Schloß Niederschönhausen, Berlin, Germany. [2]

Summer 1925–July 8, 1937, Städtisches Museum für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe (Staatliche Galerie Moritzburg,) Halle, Germany (purchase from Herbert von Garvens-Garvensburg) [3]

ca. 1918–Summer 1925, Collection of Herbert von Garvens-Garvensburg, Hannover, Germany

unknown dates (before 1918), with Galerie Commeter, Hamburg, Germany [4]


[1] Entartete Kunst inventory number 15967. See "Entartete Kunst," digital reproduction of a typescript inventory prepared by the Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, vol. 2, ca. 1941-42. London: Victoria & Albert Museum. Inventory lists the painting (as "Haremswächter") and notes the sale to Vilstrup. Aage Vilstrup was Nolde's brother-in-law. He ran a small art business in Denmark and purchased eleven of Nolde's paintings from the Reich Ministry for Propaganda in May 1939.

[2] The "Entartete Kunst" inventory lists the painting as no. 124 on the list of confiscations from the museum in Halle. See also: Beschlagnahmeinventar "Entartete Kunst," "Degenerate Art" Research Center, Freie Universität, Berlin, online database.

[3] See: Will Grohmann, "Das Städtisches Museum für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe in Halle," Der Cicerone, vol. 17 (Leipzig, 1925): 974.

[4] Galerie Commeter stock number 1663 noted in blue pencil on verso of painting.

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

June 16, 2018–January 20, 2019, "Picasso to Pollock: Modern Masterworks from the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University," Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY

April 21–July 28, 2013, "Emil Nolde: Farben heiß und heilig," Kunstmuseum des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt, Halle, Germany

October 6–December 23, 2012, "Pioneers and Exiles: German Expressionism at the Indiana University Art Museum," Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN (cat. no. 10)

September 23, 2008–May 24, 2009, "Emil Nolde, 1867–1956," Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, France, September 23, 2008–January 19, 2009; Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France, February 7–May 24, 2009 (cat. no. 44)

September 4, 1999–January 9, 2000, “The XXth Century—a Century of Art in Germany," Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Altes Museum; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany

February 1991–January 5, 1992, “Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany,” Los Angeles County Museum of Art; traveled to Art Institute of Chicago; International Gallery on the Mall, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany (cat. no. 318)

December 16, 1987–February 9, 1988, "Emil Nolde," Württembergischer Kunstverein und Stiftung Seebüll, Stuttgart, Germany

September–November 1987, “50 Years Ago–Europe on the Eve of World War II," Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany

November 12–December 31, 1980, “20th Century Paintings, Sculptures, and Drawings from the collection of Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington," The Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL

March 7–August 17, 1980, "Ensor, Munch, Nolde," The Norman Art Gallery, University of Saskatchewan, Regina. Traveled to: The Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta and The Winnipeg Art Gallery, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

October 23–December 3, 1977, “German and Austrian Expressionism, 1900–1920,” Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN (cat. no. 76)

August 1, 1974–December 10, 1975, on loan to San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA

February 10–April 29, 1973, "Emil Nolde: Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen und Druckgraphik. Ausstellung des Wallraf-Richartz-Museums und der Stiftung Seebüll Ada und Emil Nolde," Kunsthalle Köln, Germany (cat. no. 45)

1967, Emil Nolde exhibition, Nyköbing S., Anneberg, Denmark (cat. no. 4)

April 18–May 4, 1958, Emil Nolde exhibition, Schloß Charlottenborg, Louisiana, Copenhagen, Denmark (cat. no. 23)

1956, Emil Nolde Exhibition, Fyns Stiftsmuseum, Odense, Denmark (cat. no. 9)

July 19, 1937–October 2, 1938, “Entartete Kunst,” Hofgarten-Arkaden, Munich; Haus der Kunst, Berlin; Grassi-Museum, Leipzig; Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf; Festspielhaus, Salzburg, Austria [1]

November 27, 1935–July 25, 1937, "Schreckenskammer/Sonderraum Entartete Kunst," (Chamber of Horrors/Degenerate Art Gallery), Städtisches Galerie für Kunst und Gewerbe, Halle, Germany [2]

February–October 1927, “Emil Nolde: Jubiläumsausstellung anläßlich seines 60. Geburtstages,” Städtisches Kunstausstellungsgebäude, Dresden; Kunstverein, Hamburg; Kunsthalle, Kiel; Museum Folkwang, Essen; Nassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden, Germany (cat. no. 30)

May–June 1922, Emil Nolde exhibition, Galerie Garvens, Hannover, Germany

1921, “Moderne deutsche Malerei,” Kunsthalle, Basel, Switzerland (cat. no. 60)

January 6–February 6, 1918, "Emil Nolde XIII. Sonderausstellung," Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover, Germany (cat. no. 11)

January 22–February 1916, Emil Nolde exhibition, Galerie Arnold, Dresden, Germany

1915, Emil Nolde exhibition, Kunstsalon Ludwig Schames, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (cat. no. 53)

May 30–October 1, 1914, “Erste Ausstellung,” Neue Münchener Sezession, Munich, Germany (cat. no. 126).

November 4–November 30, 1912, "Kollektiv-Ausstellung von Emil Nolde," Der Neue Kunstsalon, Munich, Germany (cat. no. 8)


[1] "Degenerate Art" exhibition venues noted in the online database: Beschlagnahmeinventar "Entartete Kunst," "Degenerate Art" Research Center, Freie Universität, Berlin.

[2] As noted in the online database: Beschlagnahmeinventar "Entartete Kunst," "Degenerate Art" Research Center, Freie Universität, Berlin.

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"Nudes and Eunuch: Keeper of the Harem | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.