Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)

Englische Steptänzerinnen (Schiefler H 127; Dube H 176)

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)
Englische Steptänzerinnen (Schiefler H 127; Dube H 176)
woodcut printed in black, green, mustard yellow and pink, 1911, on firm simili-Japan paper, signed E L Kirchner in pencil, dated 04 and inscribed Handdruck, with the artist's estate stamp of the Kunstmuseum Basel verso (without number), printed by the artist from three blocks: two black and one colour block cut into three parts; Dube's second, final state, Gercken's third, final state, a very fine impression of this extremely rare and important colour woodcut, richly yet transparently inked, printing with much texture, with wide margins, the sheet edges slightly irregular, some minor staining and surface dirt in the margins, generally in very good condition
B. 405 x 250 mm., S. 645 x 405 mm.
With Roman Norbert Ketterer, Stuttgart.
Klipstein & Kornfeld, Bern, May 1963, lot 470.
Dr. Carl Richartz, Amsterdam.
Private Collection, Germany.
With Wolfgang Werner, Bremen.
Acquired by the present owner from the above.
Magdalena M. Moeller (ed.), Günther Gercken, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Farbige Druckgraphik, Brücke Museum Berlin (exh. cat.), Berlin, 2008, no. 22 (another impression illustrated).
E. L. Kirchner, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, 1956, cat. no. 65 (ill.).
Paintings, Drawings, Watercolours and Prints by 20th Century Masters, National Gallery, Washington D.C, 1972, cat. no. 46 (ill.). Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Max Pechstein - Werke aus den Berliner Jahren 1908-1914, Kunsthandlung Wolfgang Werner, Bremen & Berlin, 2005.
Maler des Blauen Reiter - Paul Klee - Deutsche Expressionisten, Schlossmuseum Murnau, Murnau, 2006, cat. no. 52 (ill.).
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Zirkus, Tanz und Cabaret, Franz Marc Museum, Kochel, 2011, p. 29 & 17 (ill.).


Charlie Scott
Charlie Scott




The new and exotic dance performances in the cabarets and music halls of Dresden and Berlin before the Great War provided Kirchner with endless inspiration and became the subject of some of his most celebrated colour prints: the colour lithographs Russisches Tänzerpaar (1909) and Cake-Walk (1910) and the present woodcut of the Englische Steptänzerinnen.
Always experimenting and adapting his work processes according to the desired effect, Kirchner printed this woodcut from three blocks: The underlying colours green, yellow and pink were printed from one block only, sawn into three parts, re-assembled and printed in one go. The resulting proximity of the different colour planes lends the print a clarity and cohesion rarely found even amongst Kirchner's great colour woodcuts. By then using two black blocks, one for the plants and borderlines and one for the dancers, he created a clear distinction between back- and foreground, emphasizing space and movement. The pink skin tone of the dancers shows through the narrow paralell incisions along their legs, turning the flat, black printed surfaces into bodies of flesh and blood. The synchronised, yet slightly varied movements of the two dancers and their angular poses imitate the pace and rythm of the tap-dance. Here Kirchner is at the height of his faculties as a printmaker, as he explores and takes full advantage of the possibilities of the medium.

The date which Kirchner chose to inscribe on the print gives an interesting insight into the psychology, one might say vanity, that can affect even the most committed artist. Whilst there is no doubt that this woodcut was executed in 1911, so keen was he to appear to be the most precocious and innovative of the Brücke artists that he back-dated it by seven years.

We are grateful to Professor Dr. Günther Gercken, Lütjensee, Germany, for his assistence in cataloguing this lot. Professor Gercken is currently preparing the new catalogue raisonné of prints by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Gercken records five colour impressions of this print, including the present one. Of these five, two are in public collections (National Gallery of Washington, Washington, D.C. and Coninx-Museum, Zurich). Only one impression printed in black alone is known.