Two Women by a Sink; The Sisters, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Two Women by a Sink; The Sisters
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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Two Women by a Sink; The Sisters, 1913

121.0 x 90.5 cm
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Inventory Number
Acquired in 1959, property of Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.; formerly Carl Hagemann Collection
On display, 1st upper level, Modern Art, room 11


About the Work

From 1912 onwards, the sisters Erna and Gerda Schilling appear in many of Kirchner’s Berlin period paintings (1911–1917). Both worked as dancers in nightclubs and as models for various artists. Close together and yet isolated from each other, Kirchner placed Gerda diagonally behind Erna dipping her hands into a sink. The pointy shapes, garish colours and the play on the complementary contrast of pink and green are typical of Kirchner’s Berlin period paintings. It all reflects his experiences in the big city, especially the fast pace of life and the isolation of the individual. As Kirchner’s significant other, Erna (1884–1945) supported him in his artistic work, made embroideries according to his designs and later also took care of his business as well as the administration of his estate.

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

Two Women by a Sink; The Sisters
Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Label at the Time of Manufacture
Signiert links unter der rechten Hand der Dame in Rosa: E. L. Kirchner

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Eigentum des Städelschen Museums-Vereins e.V.
Picture Copyright
Public Domain
Acquired in 1959, property of Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.; formerly Carl Hagemann Collection

Work Content

Motifs and References


  • 61BB2(SCHILLING, Erna)12(+54) historical person (SCHILLING, Erna) - BB - woman - historical person (SCHILLING, Erna) in a double-portrait (+ three-quarter length portrait)
  • 61BB2(SCHILLING, Gerda)12(+55) historical person (SCHILLING, Gerda) - BB - woman - historical person (SCHILLING, Gerda) in a double-portrait (+ full length portrait)
  • 31AA235(+3) sitting figure - AA - female human figure (+ sideview, profile)
  • 42G2222 sisters (second degree family relationships)
  • 41A2415 jug and basin; wash-basin

Research and Discussion


Object History
Eduard Simon-Wolfskehl, Frankfurt
Kunsthandlung Marcel Goldschmidt, Frankfurt
verkauft an Carl Hagemann (1867-1940), Frankfurt, 1930
Nachlass Carl Hagemann, 1940
Depositum im Städel Museum, Frankfurt, 1941
verkauft an den Städelschen Museums-Verein, Frankfurt am Main, 1959.


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.

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  • the date on which it changed hands

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Conservation and Restoration

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