Emil Nolde was born on August 7, 1867 as son of a farmer in the village of Nolde near Tondern. His surname was Hansen.
Apprenticeship as a carver at a furniture factory in Flensburg until 1888; worked in furniture factories in Munich, Karlsruhe and Berlin
Became an instructor for ornamental drawing and shaping at the “Indstrie und Gewerbemuseum in St. Gallen”; First watercolors of landscapes and drawings of hill farmers; Self-publication of colored drawings as so called “Alpenpostkarten”; financial success allows him to resign his lectureship and to start a career as an artist
Attended the art school of Friedrich Fehr and the Hölzel-School in Dachau; Attended the “Académie Julian” in Paris
Kopenhagen. Summer in the fishermen’s village Lildstrand in Northern Jutland. In Febraury 1902, marriage with Ada Vilstrup, a Danish drama student. Kopenhagen, Berlin, Flensburg
He adopts the surname Nolde.
Rented a fisherman’s house on the island of Alsen where he would stay for the longest period of the year until 1916. Material hardship and illness were overcome with the amicable aid. 1904/05 six months Italy, Taormina and Ischia. Since 1905, Nolde had been living in Berlin during the winter months.
Until 1907, member of the artist group “Brücke”. First woodcarvings 1906, lithographs 1907. Friendship with K. E. Osthaus and Gustav Schiefler, meeting with Edvard Munch. Member of the Berlin Secession. 1909 in Ruttebüll at the west coast of Schleswig where first religious pictures were produced – “Abendmal” (The Last Supper), “Pfingsten” (Pentecost) and “Verspottung” (Mocking).
First successes with exhibitions in Hamburg and Essen; oil paintings, ink drawings and etchings of the Port of Hamburg. Ruttebüll, second series of religious pictures in 1910. Rejection by the Berlin Secession; dispute with its board; open letter to Max Liebermann; expulsion from the group. Co-founder of the “Neue Secession”. Publication of Gustav Schiefler’s “Das graphische Werk Emil Noldes”. Pictures of Berlin’s nightlife, theater-drawings, studies from the Völkerkunde-Museum. “Maskenstillleben” (Still Life with Masks), 20 “Herbstmeere”. 1911/12, 9-part cycle of the Life of Christ.
Flensburg, 13 large color lithographies, ceramics. “Demographic” member of an expedition from Moscow over Siberia, Korea, Japan and China to New Guinea. On this one-year journey 19 oil paintings, many watercolors and drawings were produced.
In 1915, Nolde produced 88 paintings including “Grablegung” (The Entombment of Christ) and six further depictions of religious subjects. In 1917, Nolde left the island of Alsen to move to Utenwarf at the west coast near Tondern. In 1919, on Hallig Hooge located in the North Frisian Islands on Schleswig-Holstein’s Wadden Sea, a series of fantastic watercolors was produced. Member of the “Arbeitsrat für Kunst” in Berlin. Became a Danish citizen after the federal state including Utenwarf, Tondern and the village of Nolde had been connected with Demnmark in 1920. 1921, Paris, England, Spain, Zurich. Monography by Max Sauerland, Munich 1921. 1924, Italy: Venice, Rapallo, Arezzo and Vienna. Measures of “cultivation”, which led to the transformation of the primeval landscape, forced Nolde to give up the Utenwarf in 1926. He acquired an old terp, situated only a few kilometers south of the border; house construction in Seebüll to own designs.
Move from Utenwarf to Seebüll; house construction until 1937. Broad exhibition in celebration of Nolde’s 60th birthday in Dresden, following Hamburg, Kiel, Essen, Wiesbaden; Honorary doctor of the university of Kiel. Second volume of Schiefler’s catalogue raisonnée of the graphics, 1929, Berlin. House construction to designs by Mies van der Rohe fail because of strict building control requirements. 1930, 4-month stay on the island of Sylt. 1931, member of the Prussian Academy of Art. 1931-32, series of large-format watercolors “Phantasien” (Fantasies).
Developed gastric cancer; surgery in 1935. Increasing attacks by the Nazis. 1052 of Nolde’s works were removed from museums and confiscated from his private possessions whereby some parts were sold overseas and others were burned. Nolde withdrew himself to Seebüll. In 1944, his Berlin-based apartment was destroyed by bombs. From 1938 to 1945, thousands of small watercolors, the so called “Ungemalte Bilder”, were produced although Nolde was banned from painting by the Nazis.
In 1946, his wife Ada died. In 1948, Nolde married Jolanthe Erdmann who was the daughter of the pianist Eduard Erdmann. After 1945, many awards and honors: Honorary title “Professor” by the federal state government of Schleswig-Holstein, Stephan-Lochner-medal by the city of Cologne, graphics award by the XXVI. Venice Biennale, “Pour le Mérite”. From 1945 until 1951, Nolde produced hundreds of paintings; watercolors were made until 1955.
Nolde died April 13, 1956. Establishment of the Ada and Emil Nolde Foundation Seebüll.