Lot 56
  • 56

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
  • Im Sertigtal  (In Sertig Valley)
  • Stamped Nachlass E.L. Kirchner Da/Aa 32 on the reverse
  • Oil on canvas
  • 47 1/4 by 39 3/8 in.
  • 120 by 100 cm


Estate of the artist

Ketterer, Switzerland

Otto Gerson Gallery, New York (acquired from the above in 1957)

Mrs. John W. Blodgett, Jr., Portland, Oregon (acquired from the above on September 11, 1958)

Acquired by descent from the above


Saint Gallen, Kunstmuseum, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1950, no. 36

Zürich, Kunsthaus, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1952, no. 60

Stuttgart, Württembergischer Kunstverein, E.L. Kirchner 1880-1936, 1956, no. 26

New York, Fine Arts Associates, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1957, no. 21

New Orleans Museum of Art, German and Austrian Art, 1975-76, no. 34


Donald E. Gordon, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1968, no. 793, illustrated p. 381

Catalogue Note

The majestic vista of the Sertig Vallery in Switzerland is the subject of Kirchner's large canvas from 1925.  This picture is one of the panoramic Alpine views that the artist completed during his years in Davos (1917-1926), where he spent the decade communing with nature and recovering from a nervous condition brought on during the war in Germany.  Rather than confining himself to the sanitariums immortalized in Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain, Kirchner chose the remote pastures of Wildboden and immersed himself in a series of paintings that celebrated the landscape through the filter of his mind.  Kirchner did not paint these works on site, but rather interpreted the landscape around him from memory and through his own emotional aesthetic.  "I long so much to produce works from pure imagination," he wrote during his first months in Davos, "but the impression created by reality is so rich here that depicting it consumes all of one's energies" (quoted in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Mountain Life, The Early Years in Davos, 1917-1926 (exhibition catalogue), Kunstmuseum, Basel, 2003, p. 15).

When Kirchner painted the present canvas in 1925, he was fully aware of the positive effects that mountain life was having on his art.  In an essay he wrote that summer about his production, he listed "experience of the mountains" as the crucial factor in his aesthetic development.  In the recent exhibition catalogue devoted to Kirchner's years in Davos, Bernhard Mendes Bürgi explains that these pictures were Kirchner's sensory response to the spectacle surrounding him, which he translated into representative symbols or 'hieroglyphs.' Bürgi writes that the "[E]xperience of reality and automomous pictorial ideals are causally linked by the ecstatic act of translating concrete natural form into a hieroglyph.  The form ecstatically evolved from experience of reality, which Kirchner termed 'hieroglyph,' should lead to a still more exalted hieroglyph, a form built thereon.  Direct visual experience and inner vision, external reality and ideal image find a fundamental correspondence in the act of painting" (B. Mendes Bürgi, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Mountain Life, op. cit., p. 16)