Sand Hills in Grünau (Translation)
Bei Gruenau (Primary Title)
Sand Hills at Engadine (Former Title)
Originally titled Sand Hills in Grünau and dated 1913 in Rosy Fischer’s records, this painting was left behind when her son Max fled Nazi Germany in 1935. A series of title changes after it was taken led to the work’s misidentification for seventy years.
Initially, private German collector Kurt Feldäusser retitled it Dunes at Fehmarn in 1938, assuming it portrayed Fehmarn, an island off the northern coast of Germany, which was one of Kirchner’s most popular landscape subjects in 1912 and 1913. After Feldäusser’s death, it was sold in 1949 through a New York gallery to the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1967, a scholar of Kirchner’s work, Donald Gordon, recognized that the painting’s setting was not Fehmarn. He suggested that MoMA change the title to Sand Hills in Engadine and date it 1917–18, thinking that it resembled the landscape Kirchner painted after he moved to Davos, Switzerland, at the end of World War I. When the Fischer family renewed the search for Max’s work in 2004, a MoMA researcher found a postcard picturing the hills near Grünau that almost exactly matches the composition of this painting. This discovery confirmed that it is indeed the painting titled Sand Hills in Grünau that Rosy Fischer recorded on her original list, which led MoMA to return the painting to the Fischer family.
“The Mystic North: Symbolist Landscape Painting in Northern Europe and North America 1890-1940”, Art Gallery of Ontario, January 13 - March 11, 1984; Cincinnati Art Museum, March 31 - May 13, 1984.
“20th Century Masterpieces”, Musée Moderne, Paris, May – June, 1952; Tate Gallery, London, July 15 – August 17, 1952.
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