Lot 149
  • 149

ALFRED KUBIN | Prähistorische Vögel (Prehistoric Birds)

10,000 - 15,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Alfred Kubin
  • Prähistorische Vögel (Prehistoric Birds)
  • signed Kubin (lower right)
  • gouache and tempera on paper
  • 39 by 40.1cm., 15 3/8 by 15 3/4 in.
  • Executed circa 1906-07.


Maximilian (Max) & Hertha Morgenstern, Vienna (acquired from the artist)
Thence by descent to the present owners

Catalogue Note

The present lot exhibits an extremely interesting part of Kubin’s œuvre, which preceded the angst-ridden imagery of torment and despair that has come to define his artistic corpus. At the turn of the century, science dissemination was extensive and the popularisation of Darwinism crept into the imagery of many German artists. In 1898, Kubin went to Munich to study art, although he soon abandoned his lessons at the Akademie der schönen Künste. Kubin’s talents as a writer and a philosopher began to manifest themselves at this time and he made a concerted effort to study the philosophical works by Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer. Darwinian influence provided Kubin with the intellectual methodology of using the studies of nature as a launch pad for the exploration of contemporary society and the depths of the human psyche.

Prähistoriche Vögel and Prähistoriche Büffel (lot 150) reflect this Darwinian influence in their depiction of pre-historic species, also demonstrating Kubin’s experimentation with combining the mediums tempera and gouache. In Prähistoriche Vögel, Kubin renders the extinct flightless ‘elephant bird’ who lived in Madagascar until about 2,000 years ago. Displaying their characteristically odd thick legs and broad webbed feet, they could grow up to over ten feet tall and weigh around half a tonne.

The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Dr. Peter Assmann.