“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.
Artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, German, 1880 - 1938
  • Winter Landscape in Moonlight
  • Mountain Landscape (alternate title)
Date 1919
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 47 1/2 × 47 1/2 inches (120.7 × 120.7 cm)
Framed: 50 1/2 × 50 × 2 5/8 inches (128.3 × 127 × 6.7 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Curt Valentin in memory of the artist on the occasion of Dr. William R. Valentiner's 60th birthday
Accession Number 40.58
Department European Modern Art to 1950
On View Modern N230, Level 2 (see map)
Signed 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)

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