Created by an artist best for his collages, this figurative work shows the Old Mill and surrounding hills of Ambleside, the Cumbrian village where Kurt Schwitters lived from 1945.

After his status as a ‘degenerate artist’ in Nazi Germany resulted in a threatened arrest by the Gestapo, Schwitters began an exile that would take him to the Lake District via Norway, Scotland and the Isle of Man. After suffering a stroke, his ill health prompted a permanent move to Ambleside, where he was buried in 1948 after being granted British citizenship the day before his death. The rolling hills of the lakes had a profound impact on Schwitters’ later works, both in the increasingly organic forms of his abstract pieces and in his increasing move towards figurative painting. One of Ambleside’s most famous landmarks, the Old Mill on Stock Ghyll was one of the town’s last surviving watermills. Schwitters renders the mill in freely handled impasto, capturing the immediacy of his experience. In the middle distance, the grey slate rooftops of the former fulling mill can be seen against the dark backdrop of Loughrigg Fell, while the lemon sky is flecked with red.


Harry Birckerstaff; thence by descent.

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