Der Verkauf des Schattens. 1915. Woodcut in colors. Schiefler H 265. Dube 263. Gerken 774 2 ( of 2). Signed, inscribed "Eingendruck". Verso with the estate stamp of the Kunstmuseum Basel (Lugt 1570 b) and the hand-written registration number "H 265 II". From an edition of 8 copies in colors. On Silk Blotting by Huber Freres, Winterthur (with watermark). 32.1 x 21.7 cm (12.6 x 8.5 in). Sheet: 57,2 x 41,6 cm (22,5 x 16,3 in). Sheet 1 from the portfolio "Bilder zu Peter Schlemihls wundersamer Geschichte von Albert von Chamisso" (1915) with a total of 6 sheets plus cover drawing and title sheet. Other copies are in possession of the following museums: Kunstmuseum Basel, Brückemuseum, Berlin, Folkwangmuseum, Essen, Städel Museum, Frankfurt, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Gercken mentions black, violet and red, however, our sheet is green in the lower right foreground and in the upper part of the background. [EH]. • Unique work • One of two known copies with green as third color next to red and violet • Hand-made proof with manually set shades • From the artist's most sough-after period of creation • On the market for the first time in 55 years • Main work of expressionist woodcut art.
We are grateful to Prof. Dr. Günther Gercken for his kind support in cataloging this lot.
PROVENANCE: From the artist's estate. Galerie R.N. Ketterer, Campione/Italy (until 1965) Private collection Germany (acquired from aforementioned in 1965, ever since part of a family collection).
EXHIBITION: "Meisterwerke des deutschen Expressionismus", Kunsthalle Bremen, Kunstverein Hanover, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum Cologne, Stedeljik-Museum The Hague, 1960, and Kunsthaus Zürich, 1961 Galerie R.N. Ketterer, Campione/Italy. Catalog "E.L. Kirchner Brücke". 1964, cat. no. 93 with illu. in black and white.
The vast creative endeavors of the expressionists were reflected both in form of paintings and graphic art, which regained a significance that had gone lost over the 19th century. The most striking deed of the the expressionists was the revival of woodcut art, which had degenerated inot a mere reproduction technique in the second half of the 19th century. To Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and his fellow painters of the "Brücke" the woodcut was one of the most primal graphic techniques, as its treatment, owing to the brittleness of the wood, proved to be particularly challenging. In terms of formal expression, Kirchner made ingenious use of material-induced restrictions. Through the compression of formal elements Kirchner attains an artistic expressiveness that had never been accomplished in this technique before. In this woodcut offered here this becomes particularly obvious in the drawing’s strictly linear structure, which clearly increases the composition’s expressiveness. An additional hand-coloring in different painting media allows interesting insight into an experimental method to which the final creation is subordinate. The coloring takes the drawing’s strictly linear frame to a pictorial level. The sheet is not only a unique object for its hand-coloring, but also because Kirchner sawed the printing block of this hand-made apart, making only bi-color proofs in the following. Above all, it is a marvelous document of the tremendous creative energy of the most important expressionist artist.