In the spring of 1910, Otto Mueller joined Die Brücke as its final and youngest member. In his search for pristine beauty and nature, and even before he became acquainted with this group of artists, he had made the female nude in nature his central theme, which he systematically pursued for the rest of his life. These works were strongly influenced by Hans von Marées, who, in the second half of the 19th century, had invoked the return of Antiquity with idyllic portrayals of nudes. Moreover, the sculptures of Wilhelm Lehmbruck, with whom Mueller was friends, were to have a considerable influence on him from 1908 on. This painting shows two bathing female figures idyllically incorporated into an Arcadian setting. Their bodies, rendered in earth tones, correspond to the forest floor. The contours of their bodies are repeatedly echoed in the brushstrokes of the dense green. Whereas the blond nude stands like a statue against the tree, the dark-haired nude is seated and shown from behind. The figures’ contrasting poses at once exude an otherworldly dreaminess and a lyrically melancholy wistfulness, not least because their faces are hidden or have turned away from us.


  • Title: Bathers beneath the Trees
  • Creator: Otto Mueller
  • Date Created: c. 1912
  • Physical Dimensions: 115.0 x 94.0 cm
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: Kunsthalle Bremen - Der Kunstverein in Bremen
  • Medium: Distemper on canvas

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