This is a plunge into the unknown. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner is a well known German impressionist painter who committed suicide in 1938 after the Nazis sold or destroyed more than 600 of his paintings. He was also upset with the Nazi occupation of Austria. He wasn’t the only person. I think he was a brave soul too.
I wonder what happened to the paintings that were forcibly sold (or perhaps stolen)? Did they find their way back to his estate and beneficiaries? I ask because they would be very valuable today if they still exist. In 2006 one of his paintings, Street Scene, Berlin (1913) was sold for $38 million at auction.
Kirchner started out as an architect and then decided to devote his life to impressionist painting, breaking free from the establishment. He appears to have been a bohemian type who rejected the status quo inline with the impression that we have of impressionist painters.
He had his fair share of trauma having suffered from a mental breakdown after fighting in the first world war. It took him two years to recover in a sanatorium.
I think he kept domestic cats! Artists often do. Writers do as well. Cats are great companions for creative people.
I think he kept two cats; one tabby and one black and white. At least that appears to be the case towards the end of his life because you can see them in a painting of his titled Bergatelier, which translated from the German reads “mountain studio”. It was painted in 1937, one year before he took his life and when he was well known and “successful”.
If they are his cats they are friendly with each other as you can see in his painting. You can also see in this painting Kirchner’s fondness for painting nudes. There appears to be groups of naked people dotted around the studio in various shapes and sizes doing various bohemian things.
I am neither sure what “mountain studio” refers to nor in which town it is situated. I think it might be in a town called Frauenkirch but there is more than one. I think Marc might be able to help me out on that. “Mountain studio” might refer to a studio in the attic, at the top of the building. You can see the roof joists etc. in the painting. Perhaps someone smarter and wiser than me can clarify.
If this is an attic studio and if these are his two cats then they were full-time indoor cats and their human companion died before both of them. A very sad ending for a very talented artist.
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