Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Portrait of Otto Müller, a woodcut

Germany, AD 1915

The finest example of a Brücke print

Kirchner's output of paintings, drawings and prints from mid-September to mid-December 1915 in Berlin, was remarkable, despite the physical and mental breakdown which had given him a provisional discharge from the German army. The most striking of the prints were colour woodcuts, including two portraits of his close friend Otto Müller (1874-1930), another painter and printmaker whom he first met in Berlin in 1910. Müller joined Die Brücke, the group of avant-garde artists of which Kirchner had been a founder member in Dresden in 1905, remaining a key figure until its dissolution in 1913. Printmaking was central to their activities and above all, to the career of Kirchner; his total production consists of nearly 1000 woodcuts, more than 650 etchings and drypoints and 450 lithographs.

The vividly expressionist, 'primitive' style associated with Die Brücke is exemplified by this remarkable composition, halfway between a woodcut and a monotype, for which Kirchner used a single block, colouring it with a brush. In the first two states of the print he left the background almost unworked; the cat, the bow tie and the two eyes reminiscent of Egyptian art in the bottom corners were added in the third state. This impression, of the fourth state, formerly belonged to Gustav Schiefler, the Hamburg judge and collector who compiled the first catalogue raisonné of Kirchner's prints in 1926 and 1931 respectively.

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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Portrait of Otto Müller, a woodcut

© 2000 Ingeborg & Dr. Wolfgang Henze-Ketterer, Wichtrach/Bern
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner , Portrait of Otto Müller, a woodcut


More information


F. Carey and A. Griffiths, The print in Germany 1880-1933, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)


Height: 363.000 mm
Width: 305.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1983-4-16-3



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