Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Schlemihl Meets His Shadow (Schlemihls Begegnung mit dem Schatten). (1915-16)

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Schlemihl Meets His Shadow (Schlemihls Begegnung mit dem Schatten)


Not on view
Woodcut with oil additions
composition (irreg.): 12 1/8 x 11 13/16" (30.8 x 30 cm); sheet (irreg.): 22 7/16 x 16 1/4" (57 x 41.2 cm)
the artist, Berlin
one of 2 proofs of the first state, each with unique watercolor additions (total edition of states I-II: 10)
Gift of Mrs. Heinz Schultz
Object number
Drawings and Prints
This work is not on view.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner has 176 works online.
There are 17,184 prints online.

It was within the artists' group Brücke (Bridge), founded in 1905, that Ernst Ludwig Kirchner formulated his views on art and established a visual language. Together with other core members—Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Max Pechstein, and, briefly, Emil Nolde—Kirchner sought a new spirit of freedom and authenticity that rejected both the stultifying traditions of the academy and the restrictive conventions of bourgeois society. Brücke artists felt that art could respond to essential life forces with spontaneity and immediacy through such subjects as the nude in nature or figures dancing with frenzy and abandon. Sharing studios and models, teaching each other techniques, and even vacationing together, they evolved a common style that first embraced the fluidity of Fauvism and then turned to the energy and angularity of tribal art for inspiration.

Printmaking was fundamental to Brücke activities, and annual portfolios of prints were published to help the artists gain recognition and produce income. For the most part, however, members' prints were experimental in nature and made with only a few proof impressions. Kirchner continued this unstructured approach to printmaking even after the dissolution of Brücke in 1913, eventually creating some two thousand works, primarily in his own studio.

During World War I, after briefly training in the mounted artillery, Kirchner suffered a mental collapse. His depiction as an isolated figure is seen here in Evening Patrol of 1915. His series of prints of this period, entitled Schlemihl Meets His Shadow, is also considered the embodiment of his anxiety and paranoia, conditions that would continue to plague him, along with ill health, for the remainder of his life. In 1938, after being ostracized from German art circles by the Nazis, and having hundreds of his paintings removed from museums and declared "degenerate," Kirchner ended his own life.

Publication excerpt from Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 52

Provenance Research Project
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
Kirchner Estate (Erna Schilling), Davos-Frauenkirch, June 15, 1938; to Kunstsammlung Basel, 1946-1947.
Margarete Schultz, New York; to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1957

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053;; Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124;;

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information, or have spotted an error, please send feedback to