Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)

Blumentopf und Zuckerdose; Blumen

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)
Blumentopf und Zuckerdose; Blumen
signed 'E L Kirchner' (lower left); signed again, titled and dated 'E L Kirchner Blumen 17' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
27¼ x 23½ in. (69 x 59 cm.)
Painted in 1918-1919
Private collection, New York (acquired in 1959).
Mrs. B. Westcott, New York.
Serge Sabarsky Gallery, New York.
Saul P. Steinberg, New York; sale, Christie's, New York, 18 May 1981, lot 31.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
D. E. Gordon, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Cambridge, 1968, p. 346, no. 549 (illustrated).
Bern, Kunsthalle, March-April 1933, no. 33.

Lot Essay

The momentous events of World War I coupled with the unstable economic and political climate of Germany are evident in the art of the period from 1914 to the early 1920s. Within this context, the atmosphere inspired responses from artists, particularly the members of the Brücke.

The years of 1916-18 were particularly difficult for Kirchner. On 12 November 1916 the artist remarked, "I am now like the cocettes I once painted: the merest brushstrokes now, gone tomorrow. Nonetheless I am still trying to put my thoughts in order and, from all the confusion, create an image of the times, which is my task after all." (quoted in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, 2003, p. 28). With his failing health, Kirchner re-entered a sanatorium in 1917 and was discharged in July of 1918. This period of time not only marked a stylistic shift in the artist's work but also a tangible break between the past and future.

During the time following his release, Kirchner spent much time in the Alps, and, as his health improved, the artist executed his visionary Alpine landscapes and vibrant floral still-lifes. These works afforded the artist an escape from the surroundings of war and allowed for exploration of universal themes untouched by the complexities of human interaction. Street scenes and urban decay no longer inspired the artist; as Kirchner wrote, "my days of the circus, cocettes and society are over. I have made of these things what I could, and I believe it had not been done in that way before" (quoted in ibid., p. 30).

With its intense color, energetic brushwork and unbridled optimism, the present picture can be read as Kirchner's departure from both the representation of the rapid urbanization and modernization of the city as well as the horrors of the First World War.

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