During his brief association with the German Expressionist group Die Brücke in 1906, Emil Nolde learned the technique of woodcut prints. Nolde had worked in a furniture factory before becoming an artist, so the technique of woodcutting suited his abilities. In Prophet, his most famous print, Nolde exploits the characteristics inherent to the medium. Coarsely gouged-out areas, jagged lines, and the textured grain of the wood effectively combine in this portrayal of a fervent believer. The brooding face confronts the viewer with an immediacy and deep emotion that leave no doubt about the prophet’s spirituality. Three years before Nolde executed Prophet, while recovering from an illness, he experienced a religious transformation. Afterward, he began depicting religious subjects in paintings and prints. Art historians have suggested that the hollow eyes, furrowed brow, and sunken cheeks of this figure represent a self-portrait. Regardless, the figure’s messianic countenance is considered one of the quintessential prints of German Expressionism.

Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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Emil Nolde, German, 1867–1956
Woodcut on wove paper, edition of about 50
Block: 12 1/2 × 8 13/16 in. (31.8 × 22.4 cm) Sheet: 14 15/16 × 12 in. (37.9 × 30.5 cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by the Alvin S. Romansky Prints and Drawings Accessions Endowment Fund

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

Research ongoing