Head of a Sick Man (Self-Portrait), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Head of a Sick Man (Self-Portrait)
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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Head of a Sick Man (Self-Portrait), 1918

588 x 434 mm
575 x 265 mm
Physical Description
Woodcut on paper lined with blotting paper 2nd state (of 2)
Inventory Number
Object Number
65611 D
Acquired in 1948 as a donation from the heirs of the Carl Hagemann estate
Can be presented in the study room of the Graphische Sammlung (special opening hours)


About the Work

This intense self-portrait of Kirchner shows him in a severely emaciated state. The depiction of his hands – temporarily paralyzed as a result of medication abuse – has a symbolic quality. In 1915, just months after entering military service, the artist had suffered a mental and physical breakdown. There followed a series of stays in sanatoria, of which the last was in Kreuzlingen on Lake Constance. The sensitive, contrary strokes defining the face and hands translate Kirchner’s psychological tension into the woodcut medium in striking manner.

About the Acquisition

From 1900 onwards, the Frankfurt chemist and industrialist Carl Hagemann (1867‒1940) assembled one of the most important private collections of modern art. It included numerous paintings, drawings, watercolours and prints, especially by members of the artist group “Die Brücke”. After Carl Hagemann died in an accident during the Second World War, the then Städel director Ernst Holzinger arranged for Hagemann’s heirs to evacuate his collection with the museum’s collection. In gratitude, the family donated almost all of the works on paper to the Städel Museum in 1948. Further donations and permanent loans as well as purchases of paintings and watercolours from the Hagemann estate helped to compensate for the losses the museum had suffered in 1937 as part of the Nazi’s “Degenerate Art” campaign. Today, the Hagemann Collection forms the core of the Städel museum’s Expressionist collection.

Work Data

Basic Information

Head of a Sick Man (Self-Portrait)
Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Woodcut on paper lined with blotting paper 2nd state (of 2)
Label at the Time of Manufacture
Signiert unterhalb der Darstellung rechts (mit Bleistift): E L Kirchner; bezeichnet unterhalb der Darstellung links: Handdruck
Captions Added Later
Bezeichnet verso unten mittig (mit Bleistift): No. 9696 / DH; links unten: 788.
Verso Stempel des Städelschen Kunstinstituts, Frankfurt am Main (Lugt 2356), mit zugehöriger Inventarnummer
  • Nicht feststellbar
Work Catalogues
  • Gercken 872 II (von II)
  • Dube H. 327 II (von II)
  • Schiefler H. 280

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
Public Domain
Acquired in 1948 as a donation from the heirs of the Carl Hagemann estate

Work Content

Motifs and References


  • 31B62 morphology of facial expression
  • 31AA2531 hand(s) bent towards the head - AA - both arms or hands
  • 49D32 line (~ planimetry, geometry)
  • 49D43 prism ~ stereometry

Research and Discussion


Object History
…, Carl Hagemann(1867-1940), Frankfurt am Main
Nachlass Carl Hagemann, Frankfurt am Main, 1940
Schenkung der Erben an das Städelsche Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, 1948.


Since 2001, the Städel Museum has systematically been researching the provenance of all objects that were acquired during the National Socialist period, or that changed owners or could have changed owners during those years. The basis for this research is the “Washington Declaration”, also known as the “Washington Conference Principles”, formulated at the 1998 “Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets” and the subsequent “Joint Declaration”.

The provenance information is based on the sources researched at the time they were published digitally. However, this information can change at any time when new sources are discovered. Provenance research is therefore a continuous process and one that is updated at regular intervals.

Ideally, the provenance information documents an object’s origins from the time it was created until the date when it found its way into the collection. It contains the following details, provided they are known:

  • the type of acquisition and/or the way the object changed hands
  • the owner's name and place of residence
  • the date on which it changed hands

The successive ownership records are separated from each other by a semicolon.

Gaps in the record of a provenance are indicated by the placeholder “…”. Unsupported information is listed in square brackets.

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