Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, ‘Badendes Paar’, 1909, Christie's

Signed in pencil, inscribed Eigendruck, a good impression of this very rare print, one of two known impressions of the first state (of two), with the artist's estate stamp of the Kunstmuseum Basel (numbered in black ink H 129 I) verso, with margins, probably the full sheet, some creases and minor stains and surface dirt in the margins, otherwise in good condition.
Block 203 x 301 mm., Sheet 353 x 423 mm.

From the Catalogue:
Gercken records a total of seven impressions of this print: a handcoloured impression of the first state, the present impression of the first state printed in black only, and five impressions of the second, final state, including one printed in black only and four printed from two blocks in colours.

This rare woodcut forms part of the earliest group of prints in Kirchner's oeuvre depicting bathers in a landscape, one of the classic themes explored by the artist and his fellow members of the Brücke-group, Heckel, Schmidt-Rottluff and Pechstein. It was in the summer of 1909 that they all went to the Moritzburg Lakes outside of Dresden to swim, sunbathe and sketch each other and their girlfriends in the nude. During that summer, Kirchner created a total of at least 15 prints of bathers, in different formats and in all techniques - lithographs, woodcuts and drypoints. The present woodcut, cut rapidly and energetically into the woodblock, betrays the spontaneity of the process: it was only after printing two impressions of the first state before Kirchner realised that he had left the head of the man almost entirely black, as seen here, and decided to give the face of the man more definition.
—Courtesy of Christie's

Schiefler 129; Dube 158; Gercken 308

About Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

A leading figure in the early-20th-century German Expressionist group Die Brücke, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner produced paintings, prints, and sculptures that opposed the conventions of academic art. His nudes, landscapes, and scenes of urban life on the eve of World War I are known for their unsettling effects of psychological tension and eroticism, while his powerful, crudely executed black-and-white woodcuts illustrated many books and magazines, including Germany’s leading avant-garde periodical Der Sturm. Albrecht Dürer was a lifelong influence on Kirchner, but painters such as Edvard Munch and Vincent van Gogh, as well as African and Polynesian art, inspired his use of bright colors, simplified forms, and malevolent, mask-like faces. His art was labeled as “degenerate” by the Nazis in the 1930s, and he would commit suicide in 1937.

German, 1880-1938, Aschaffenburg, Germany, based in Dresden, Germany