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Winter Landscape in Moonlight, 1919

  • Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, German, 1880 - 1938

Oil on canvas

  • Unframed: 47 1/2 × 47 1/2 inches (120.7 × 120.7 cm)
  • 50 1/2 × 50 × 2 5/8 inches (128.3 × 127 × 6.7 cm)

Gift of Curt Valentin in memory of the artist on the occasion of Dr. William R. Valentiner's 60th birthday


On View

  • Modern N230


European Modern Art to 1970

“Winter Landscape in Moonlight” depicts Tinzenhorn mountain in the Swiss Alps with vibrant intensity. This vista had special meaning for Kirchner, who had first gone to the Alps to recover from a nervous breakdown several years earlier. Kirchner wanted to paint his experiences with nature, as they stimulated his return to spiritual and physical health. An insomniac, he became familiar with the variations in the landscape at particular times of night and day. “Winter Landscape in Moonlight” suggests the unusual spectrum of color produced by a bright moon over slopes blanketed with snow: brisk strokes of blue, magenta, deep orange, and purple animate the pre-dawn landscape, accentuating the sharp angularity of the peaks.

Signed, lower right: E. L. Kirchner

1923-August 7, 1937, Kaiser-Friedrich Museum (Magdeburg, Germany)

August 7, 1937-August 12, 1939, confiscated by the German Reich (Deutsches Reich)/The Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda), Berlin, Germany as “degenerate art ["Entartete Kunst," no. 16114]

August 12, 1939, purchased by (Buch- und Kunsthandlung Karl Buchholz, Berlin, Germany)

by 1940, transferred to (Curt Valentin, Buchholz Gallery, New York, New York, USA)

1940-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Exh. cat., Golden Gate International Exposition. San Francisco, 1940, pp. 84, 90, no. 665 (ill.). Themes and Variations in Painting. Exh. cat., Baltimore Museum of Art. Baltimore, 1948, pp. 47, 68, no. 110. E.L. Kirchner, German Expressionst. Exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art. Raleigh, 1958, p. 87, no. 26 (ill.). Grohmann, E. L. Kirchner. Stuttgart, 1958, p. 73. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Exh. cat., Kunstverein fur die Rheinlande und Westfalen. Dusseldorf, 1960, no. 68. Gordon, D.E. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Exh. cat., Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Cambridge, 1968, p. 347, no. 558 (pl. 19). Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Exh. cat., Seattle Art Museum. Seattle, 1968, p. 81, no. 49 (pl. 27). European Expressionism. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. Paris, 1970, no. 101. DIA Illustrated Handbook. Detroit, 1971, p. 171. Dube, Wolf-Dieter. Expressionists. New York, 1972, p. 52 (fig. 30). Miesel, Victor. Kirchner's Wintermondlandschaft. Wurzburg, 1978, pp. 207-216 (ill.). Uhr, H. Masterpieces of German Expressionism at the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1982, pp. 102-103 (ill.). Dube, Wolf-Dieter. Expressionists and Expressionism. Geneva, 1983, p. 117 (ill.). Winter. Exh. cat., Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College. Hanover, New Hampshire, 1986, p. 103 (ill.). 100 Masterworkds from the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1985, pp. 218-219 (ill.). Miesel, Victor. "Alpine Imagery and Kirchner's 'Winter Landscape in Moonlight.'" The Bulletin of the DIA 66, 4 (1991): pp. 4-17 (ill.). Grisebach, Lucius. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 1880-1938. Cologne, 1995, p. 167 (ill.). Augustin, Birgitta. "'Like stars seen on the bottom of deep wells': Recalling a Shakyamuni in Detroit," Orientations. vol. 52, no. 1 (January/February 2021): pp. 74-76, (fig. 2) p. 76.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Winter Landscape in Moonlight, 1919, oil on canvas. Detroit Institute of Arts, Gift of Curt Valentin in memory of the artist on the occasion of Dr. William R. Valentiner's 60th birthday, 40.58.