Fondazione Hermann Hesse Montagnola
In 1916, at the age of 40, Hermann Hesse begins painting. In a period of deep inner crisis, derived partly from the tragic events of World War I, he begins a psychotherapy, during which he is suggested to «try also painting», as theraupetical device. He produces still lives, self-portraits and landscapes painted between 1917 and 1918 in Engadina, Locarno-Monti and Bern. After the separation from his family and  his moving to Ticino in 1919, he writes the expressionistic novella Klingsor's Last Summer which represents his feelings and creative  urge inspired by the magic colours of the South. Here, Hesse chooses watercolours, after experimenting with other painting techniques, such as distemper, charcoal. pastels and oil painting.

Already in 1918 Hermann Hesse starts selling some poems with colour illustrations, whose proceeds he donates mostly to the library for prisoners of war, he is managing. He gives illustrated manuscripts to his friends and relatives. Small watercolours decorate part of his innumerable letters Hesse sends to his children and close friends and also illustrate the sketches for Wanderung [The Wayfarer].   
In Autumn 1922, Hesse writes for his second wife Ruth Wenger the love tale Piktors Verwandlungen, which he illustrates with colourful decorations.
Before giving the precious present to Ruth, Hesse makes other versions of it and donates them to some of his friends, among which Romain Rolland, Peter Suhrkamp and Georg Reinhard.
Until the end of the thirties, Hesse paints brilliant, colourful watercolours, inspired by his innumerable excursion in Ticino. They represent grotti, cellars digged in the rock and hidden in the wood, vineyards, churches and small villages;  moreover they testify not only his love for Nature, but also his affection to the rural culture of Ticino. Today these works of art are appreciated very much and are exhibited all over the world.

At the Museum Hermann Hesse some original watercolours, placed at disposal by the Hesse Family, can be purchased. The proceeds of the sale will be donated to the Fondazione Hermann Hesse Montagnola.
  Painter's Joy (1918)

Fields cost money thanks to what they yield,
Meadows are defended by barbed wire.
Sordid greed is everywhere revealed,
Everything's walled in, for sale or hire.

Here, however, in my visual dream
Other laws encompass every thing.
Violet disperses, purple reigns supreme -
Burden of the guiltless song I sing.

Yellow joins with yellow, joins with red,
Rosy mist dilutes the blue above,
Light and color sing of worlds unsaid,
Rise and fall in ringing waves of love.

Green arises from a newborn spring,
Spirit governs, healing every smart,
Giving meaning, newly ordering,
Bringing light and gladness to my heart.

The painter

© Fondazione Hermann Hesse Montagnola