Emil Nolde was born August 7th, 1867 in Southern Jutland, Denmark. He was raised on a small farm but at a young age realized he was not the farming type and decided to apprentice woodcarving and engraving from the areas masters. In 1889 he was accepted to the School of Applied Arts in Karlsruhe, Germany. Upon graduating from school he went directly into teaching in Switzerland from 1892-1898.
Nolde left teaching in 1898 to pursue the life of a full time artist but upon being rejected to the Munich Academy of Fine Art that same year he decided to move to Paris, France. During his time in Paris he became familiar with the rising style of impressionism and honed his skills as a painter. In 1902 he moved to Berlin, Germany and became close to famous art collector Gustav Schiefler who introduced him to many other German artists of the time. Between 1906 and 1910 he was apart of the expressionist group Die Brüke in addition to being a member of the Berlin Secession. He shortly left both groups due to him not being able to work well with others.
In 1921 Nolde became a member of the National Socialist Party and promoted expressionism as the major artistic style of Gemany. However, when the Party announced that they viewed all forms of modernism as a disgrace Nolde was dismissed from the Party. Up until this point Nolde had held a level of prestige in the German art world but after the National Socialist Party took full control of Germany nearly all of his works were seized by the government and was forbidden to paint.
After World War II ended Nolde was awarded the German Order of Merit which is Germany's highest civilian decoration. He continued paint and make prints into his old age and died at the age of 88 on April 13th, 1956 in his home in Seebüll, Germany.