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

Blühende Bäume IV

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)
Blühende Bäume IV
signed 'E L Kirchner' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
16 3/8 x 20 1/8 in. (41.5 x 51.1 cm.)
Painted in 1909
E. Weyhe, New York.
Mr and Mrs W. D. Vogel, Milwaukee, by whom acquired on 8 February 1957, and thence by descent to the present owner.
D. E. Gordon, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Cambridge, 1968, no. 64 (illustrated p. 275).
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Blühende Bäume IV (Trees in Bloom IV) is one of a rare series of landscape paintings made by Kirchner in the spring of 1909 depicting trees in blossom. Executed using a series of near free-form brushstrokes in a raw, impromptu style that heightens the intensity of the colour and simplifies the forms of the subject matter to its essentials, these works were among the first of Kirchner's paintings to mark the genesis of what was to become known as the 'Brücke' style.

In the January 1908, Kirchner had been captivated by an exhibition he had seen at the Paul Cassirer Gallery in Berlin of the work of Henri Matisse. From this moment onwards, Kirchner became almost obsessively engrossed in absorbing the developments in painting that Matisse had made, even attempting to persuade the artist himself to join die Brücke. Emulating the Frenchman's apparent liberation of colour and form, Kirchner extended these developments further in his own work in an attempt to create paintings that conveyed a sense of the artist's inner feelings towards the subject matter. Using Matisse's intensified language of colour as his guide, Kirchner sought through immediacy and intuitive painterly impulse, to create on canvas an evocation of his emotional state and feelings towards the natural world.

Blühende Bäume IV is possibly the only surviving example from a series of four paintings on the same subject that Kirchner made at this time. The other three works in the series remain lost. Like Frühlingslandschaft, now in the Pfalzgalerie in Kaiserlauten, which was exhibited in the famous Brücke exhibition held at the Galerie Emil Richter in Dresden in June 1909, this work conveys a sense of the vitality and burgeoning force of nature pulsing through these blossoming trees through a lively use of colour contrast and animated painterly texture. Raw and vital, it is a virtuoso exercise in pure painting that depicts not only the first blossom of spring but also the first blooming of Kirchner's die Brücke style