Greenhouse in Jena


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938), Greenhouse in Jena, 1914, signed and dated (as 1914), and annotated “eigendruck” (handprinted); also at bottom margin signed “Botanischer Garten Jena 14, corrected to 15). Reference: Dube 291 (there dated 1916). In good condition apart from toning from mat in margins outside of the image, minor handling folds in margins, printed in black ink on a heavy ivory wove paper, with wide margins trimmed irregularly as typifies proof impressions, 15 1/4 x 11 3/4, the sheet 22 1/4 x 16 inches, archival matting.

A fine rich impression of this rare woodcut.

Provenance: Estate of the Artist (with the estate stamp verso).

This impression was printed personally by Kirschner, who rarely allowed others to print his work (and this helps account for the great rarity of his work).

The dating of Greenhouse in Jena is not entirely clear; the Dubes indicate 1916 but Kirschner (who was notoriously inaccurate at dating his work) dates it earlier. But in any case it was done shortly after he created his famous paintings of Berlin street scenes in the years 1913-14.

Jena is a city in central Germany; its Botanical Garden was created in 1580, and is one of the oldest in Europe. Kirschner’s view of the Garden is that of an overwhelming presence, a riot of threatening shapes and patterns dwarfing the man at its center. The astonishing imagery may well relate to the difficulties Kirchner experienced during this period – he was called to the army in early 1915 but after a breakdown was given a leave of absence later that year and spent time in asylums in Konigstein and Berlin; his recovery took a long while and perhaps was never quite complete.