Dube H 238; Gercken 644. Provenance: Kunstverein, Jena, Botho-Graef-Foundation (established as a donation by the artist in 1918 in memory of Botho Graef (1857-1917), with stamp on the reverse (Lugt 4337); seized by the German Reich / Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, Berlin on 2.8.1937 (cf. Database of seized works by the initiative “Entartete Kunst”, research centre “Entartete Kunst”, FU Berlin, NS Inventar EK-Nr. 13115); Galerie Ferdinand Möller, Berlin, on 2.1.1940 acquired as a trade; Grisebach, Berlin 24.11.1995, lot 39; private collection, Switzerland; Galerie Wolfgang Wittrock, Berlin; private collection, North Rhine-Westphalia.
• Wonderfully busy street scene, one of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s most sought-after motifs
• Very rare sheet in exceptional print quality
• From the artist’S famous Botho-Graef foundation at the Kunstverein Jena
Street scenes are among Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s most iconic motifs. For the expressive woodcut “Street Scene, at a Shop Window”, he chooses a close-up view of numerous densely packed figures. The shop window is only hinted at by the fragmentary advertising script at the top left. Kirchner uses large areas of black in the woodblock, which are in turn divided and highlighted by numerous white sections and thus create a tight composition. The white areas are very clear in this print, even the fine inner contours in the hats are easily discernible. This clear print quality is not to be found in any other of the known copies. The Kunstverein Jena organised an important solo exhibition of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s work in the spring of 1914. At the same time, the artist met Botho Graef, who had been Associate Professor of Classical Archaeology and Art History at the University of Jena since 1904. As a patron of modern art, Graef arranged works by renowned contemporary artists for the university, the city of Jena and the Jenaer Kunstverein, which was only founded in 1903. A paternal friendship developed between Graef and Kirchner. After Graef’s death in 1917, Kirchner set up the Botho Graef Foundation in May 1918 as a token of gratitude and in memory of his friend and patron who had died at an early age, which included a donation of 260 sheets of etchings, woodcuts and lithographs to the Jenaer Kunstverein. After the Kunstverein became part of the city museum in 1934, valuable holdings and in particular the expressionist works were confiscated in 1937 as part of the National Socialist “Degenerate Art” campaign. Only a small part of the previously unique collection remained. Today, the works in the collection are scattered around the world in private and public collections, but thanks to the foundation stamp that all the works bear, they can still be clearly identified today. In memory of Botho Graef and in honour of his commitment to modern art, the city of Jena has been awarding the Botho Graef Prize to contemporary artists since 1992.
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