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

Drei Hütten am Hügel, Rote Hütten

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)
Drei Hütten am Hügel, Rote Hütten
signed 'EL Kirchner' (on the reverse); with the Nachlass stamp and inscription 'Da/Aa6' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
23 3/4 x 27 3/8 in. (60.5 x 69.5 cm.)
Painted in 1919
The artist's estate.
Kurt Forberg, Dusseldorf.
Galerie Wilhelm Grosshennig, Dusseldorf.
Acquired from the above by the father of the present owners on 1 April 1958.
D. E. Gordon, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Cambridge, 1968, no. 599, p. 353 (illustrated).
L. Grisebach, Ernst Ludwig Kirchners Davoser Tagebuch, Wichtrach/Bern, 1997, p. 48.

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Antoine Lebouteiller
Antoine Lebouteiller

Lot Essay

‘I trust you will see... that something new is expressing itself here, and something quite different from the beautiful, refined French art you have so graciously cultivated and promoted. People are always frightened at first by the novel and unwonted: doubtless that is why the people of Winterthur are so horrified by my work.’ (Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, ‘Letter to Georg Reinhart’, 1924 quoted in Lothar Grisebach, ed, Ernst Ludwig Kirchners Davoser Tagebuch, Ostfildern, 1997, p. 249)

Drei Hütten am Hügel, Rote Hütten depicts three alpine huts in the mountains above Frauenkirch near Davos, where Kirchner had been sent to recuperate after his breakdown during the First World War. As a note in his diary from this period states, the painting was begun on the 28th August 1919. It belongs therefore, to the period in which Kirchner first began to paint again after his illness and marks his first explorations in what would become a completely new style stimulated by his new surroundings and more philosophical state of mind.

Kirchner’s Davos period was marked by a renewed interest in colour prompted largely by the rich hues and extraordinary vistas of the high alpine landscape within which he was now living. In the autumn of 1918 as he first began to recover from his illness he wrote to a friend: ‘There below, you will probably still be having summer, while our sun already gilds the mountains and the larch trees become yellow. But the colours are wonderful like old dark red velvet. Down below the cabins stand out the boldest Paris blue against the yellow fields. For the first time here one really gets to know the worth of individual colours. And in the bargain, the stark monumentality of the rows of mountains.’ (Ernst Ludwig Kirchner ‘Letter to Nelle Van de Velde’, Oct. 13 1918. quoted in Donald E. Gordon, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, London, 1968, p. 107.)

While the jagged, and edgy brushwork of Kirchner’s pre-war city paintings still distinguishes parts of this painting, the red tones of the three alpine huts, here echoed in both the evening sky and the earthy colours of the hill, reveal Drei Hütten am Hügel, Rote Hütten to be a work that clearly reflects Kirchner’s new-found excitement in his new surroundings and the dramatic effect Swiss mountain life was to have on his work.

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