An image of Three bathers

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

(Germany 06 May 1880 – 15 Jun 1938)

Three bathers

Not on display
Further information

As one of the founding artists of 'Die Brücke' group in 1905, Kirchner is essential to the history of German expressionism, a movement he virtually personifies. Trained in Munich and Dresden, he was attracted to neo-impressionism, van Gogh and tribal artefacts, combining influences from all three in his searingly emotional paintings, drawings and prints. His woodcuts and woodcarvings combine traditional German folk forms with more primitive instincts. His oil paintings, ranging from ambitiously large to intimate in scale, equally show the effects of ethnographic research. The nudes in 'Three bathers' resemble the artist's painted carvings, echoing in turn the sculpted Eves of medieval art as well as African and Pacific statuary. Wearing lipstick and a look of enervation, these Berlin day-trippers huddle defensively in the Baltic waves. Uncannily presaging the coming blitzkrieg, the figures also predict the artist's own deteriorating health. Conscripted in 1915, Kirchner was discharged six months later with tuberculosis.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.

oil on canvas
197.5 x 147.5 cm stretcher; 215.2 x 165.0 x 6.5 cm frame
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Purchase 1984
Accession number
Kunstsalon Ludwig Schames, 1916, Frankfurt am Main/Germany, Exhibited October 1916
Kunstsammlungen der Stadt Düsseldorf, pre 1937, Dusseldorf/Germany, Confiscated 26 August 1937
Buchholz Gallery, circa 1939-1951, New York/New York/United States of America, Email from Prof. Dr. Uwe Fleckner, Kunstgeschichtliches Seminar, Universität Hamburg, 27 August 2011. 'I could figure out that your painting was confiscated at the Kunstsammlungen der Stadt Düsseldorf on 26 August 1937. It was not listed in the official confiscation records, but the fact of its confiscation is stated in the Düsseldorf museum's papers. The painting has not been in the "Degenerate Art" show of 1937, the label 2046 (verso painting) would have been composed by 5 figures if this would have been the case! It is likely that 2046 is the inventory no. of the Curt Valentin Gallery (so that Valentin would have got it ca.1939, because we know that no. 2045, a work by Dix, went to the gallery at that date).'; Loaned by Buchholz Gallery to 'Kirchner: first American retrospective exhibition of oils, watercolours, prints' at the Busch-Reisinger Museum, 8 December 1950 - 12 January 1951.
Curt Valentin Gallery, 1951-Jun 1955, New York/New York/United States of America, Purchased by Mr and Mrs Zimmermann, June 1955 from the 'Closing exhibition'.
Mr & Mrs Frederick Zimmermann, Jun 1955-circa 1969, New York/New York/United States of America, Frederick Zimmermann (USA 1906-67). Loaned by Mrs Zimmermann to 'Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: a retrospective exhibition' at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 1969
Galerie Melki, 1973, Paris/France, Inventory no. 2073
Fischer Fine Art Ltd, pre 1984, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from Fischer Fine Art 1984