Rare Kirchner Sketchbook Goes Under the Hammer at Bonhams London

Kirchner’s sketchbooks were, according to the artist himself, the key to his oeuvre.

Sketchbook by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Photo ©Bonhams.
Sketchbook by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Photo ©Bonhams.

A very rare, bound album of sketches by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner is hitting the auction block today at the Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art sale in London.

The Skizzenalbum, inscribed by the artist as “Drawings from my sketchbooks dating from 1900 to 1932. E. L. Kirchner,” has a presale estimate of £150,000-£200,000 ($185,000- $246,000).

The sketchbook contains 40 watercolors and drawings by the renowned artist, and was gifted by him to Dr. Frédéric Bauer, his doctor and friend, as well as an occasional model and avid collector of Kirchner’s works.

Bauer in fact owned a whopping 390 works by Kirchner, some of which were shown in an exhibition of his collection in Nuremberg in 1952.

Sketchbook compiled by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Photo ©Bonhams.

Sketchbook by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Photo ©Bonhams.

The sketchbook’s earliest work dates from around 1906-07, rather than 1900, as the artist had dated it. Kirchner is notorious for backdating his works for artistic precedence.

The artist claimed to carry a sketchbook around with him everywhere—a claim proven to be true as a sketchbook was found in the artist’s jacket on the day of his suicide.

Kirchner’s sketchbooks worked as an observational diary for the artist. According to a press release issued by the auction house, Kirchner wrote on the back of one of the sketches in this album that these drawings were “the absolute key to Kirchner’s oeuvre” (thus, referring to himself in the third person).

This compilation of sketches prove to be a rarity, as they are filled with Kirchner’s works before the rise of Hitler and Nazi Germany and the artist’s subsequent distraught.

After his work was defamed in the Degenerate Art Exhibition by the Nazis, Kirchner took his own life.


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