An image of Three bathers

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

(Germany 06 May 1880 – 15 Jun 1938)

Three bathers

19th & 20th c European art
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
Paul Multhaupt, pre 27 Mar 1928, Düsseldorf/Germany, Erkrath, near Düsseldorf
Kunstsammlungen der Stadt Düsseldorf, 27 Mar 1928-26 Aug 1937, Düsseldorf/Germany, Gift of Paul Multhaupt 27 March 1928. Confiscated by the German Reich as "Degenerate Art" from the Kunstsammlungen der Stadt Düsseldorf on 26 August 1937. Number 2046 on the National Socialist inventory, label verso. Not exhibited in the "Degenerate Art" exhibition. Stored at Schönhausen Palace, Berlin (storage of "useable" works of art) from August 1938 until 8 December 1939. Purchased by Karl Buchholz, 8 December 1939.
Buchholz Gallery Curt Valentin, 08 Dec 1939-1951, New York/New York/United States of America, Berlin dealer Karl Buchholz, was one of the four main art dealers granted permission by the German Reich to sell confiscated works of "Degenerate Art" on the international art market. In 1940 the painting was shipped to Buchholz’s New York gallery, run by Curt Valentin, inventory no. NY1957. In 1951 the gallery was renamed the Curt Valentin Gallery.
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. Sculpture, paintings and drawings'.
Mr & Mrs Frederick Zimmermann, Jun 1955-circa 1969, New York/New York/United States of America, Frederick Zimmermann (USA 1906-67). Loaned by Mrs Dorothy Zimmermann to 'Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: a retrospective exhibition' at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 20 March - 27 April 1969. Touring exhibition, exhibited in Boston only.
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