The Rhinelander August Macke was an important mediator of French painting to German modernism. He belonged to the circle around the “Blauer Reiter” (Blue rider), but developed his own visual language. This is easy to comprehend when standing in front of the painting “People by the Blue Lake”.
A man, a woman and a little girl are strolling along a lake. Regarding the motifs, the painting stands in the tradition of genre paintings, especially the Sunday pictures by Georges Seurat. In spite of the freedom of the colour scheme, the colourful autumn foliage is clearly recognisable. The idyll of the walk seems like on a Sunday, almost like paradise. As is characteristic of Macke, he focuses on leisure and joie de vivre.
Although Macke’s large, equally sized colour fields take away the picture’s impression of depth, one can still experience the strollers’ movement in space. The artist took a cubist approach, modelling in simple forms. Cool and warm colours of different spatial and sculptural effects stand side by side, making the picture dynamic, however much it retains its two-dimensional unity.
Even if the motif is rather universal, the painting reflects the situation of the artist during his recreational holiday at Lake Thun, where he stayed from the end of September 1913 until spring 1914. During this time, which was a particular happy one for Macke and his wife, he created “People by the Blue Lake”. – One year later, Macke, who was only 27 years old, was killed on the battlefield in Champagne.