- Museum number
'O Ewigkeit-Du Donnerwort So Spanne Meine Glieder Aus', artist's book containing eleven lithographs interleaved with text from the music of Bach (Berlin: Fritz Gurlitt, 1918), edition 44/125
- Production date
Height: 560 millimetres (cover)
Width: 425 millimetres (cover)
- Curator's comments
- Text from Frances Carey and Antony Griffiths, 'The Print in Germany 1880-1933', BM 1984, no. 115
The series consists of eleven prints, a self-portrait as frontispiece, a title-vignette and nine illustrations to the text of J.S. Bach's Cantata 60 (of 1723), '0 Eternity, thou word of thunder'. The text consists of a dialogue between Hope and Fear, serving as a meditation on Revelations XIV, verse 13, and the plates show two figures, clearly recognisable as Kokoschka himself and Alma Mahler taking the parts of Fear and Hope respectively. In an interview Kokoschka stated that "it was the text rather than the score of the Bach cantata which gave me my starting point. The text suggested a certain train of thought which I then pursued quite subjectively and independently and expressed in the pictures. Certainly it's hope and fear that I'm depicting, but this wasn't thought out and laid down beforehand" (1966 Arts Council, Kokoschka catalogue, p. 13).
The prints were first published in a portfolio in 1916 (or 1917). A second edition in 1918 came out both as a portfolio, and as a bound book with the text included. It is this latter variation which is catalogued in Carey & Griffiths 1984, open at the frontispiece. It bears the number 44 of the total edition of 125, and is signed by the artist. The Wingler-Welz catalogue suggests, without giving reasons, that the 1916-17 edition was printed from transferred drawings, whereas the 1918 edition consists of photolithographs. Without a copy of the earlier edition to hand no comment is possible on the first assertion, but the second seems to be very likely to be correct.
In the case of this 'Self-portrait', the original drawing has been published (in Rathenau 1, 1935, pl. 71: we have not seen a copy of this book) and is in reverse to the print, so that the artist's monogram is the wrong way round. The reversal of the design in the book could only have been done by photomechanical means. Since there is no difference in quality between this plate and the others in the book, it follows that they are almost certainly photolithographs as well.
This portrait is very similar to a painting (Wingler 102) which is dated 24 December 1914. It would tend to support the traditional dating of the drawings in 1914.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1984/5 Sep-Jan, BM, 'The Print in Germany 1880-1933', no. 116
1986 Jun-Aug, London, Tate Gallery, 'Oskar Kokoschka'
1992 Mar-May, Manchester Art Gallery, 'The Expressionist Face...'
- Associated titles
Associated Title: O Ewigkeit-Du Donnerwort So Spanne Meine Glieder Aus
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number