A previously unknown painting by the German Expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner has been discovered behind a later canvas. The Städel Museum in Frankfurt announced the exciting news after Café Scene was found following a series of tests on a work known as ‘Sleigh Trip in the Snow’. Cafe Scene, 1926 and Sleigh Trip in the Snow 1927-29 were gifted to the museum in 1987 by the businessman, Kurt Möllgaard.
The painting had been in the artist’s studio until 1938 when he died and was part of his estate. Kirchner was notorious for using the same stretcher several times. Museum conservationist Eva Bader stated on the discovery of scene in the café; “This has happened more than once, so always look behind, as maybe you have two. Kirchner told collector Carl Hagemann to check behind his paintings as he may have layered the canvases onto the stretchers. This was documented in a letter dating from 1918.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (6 May 1880 – 15 June 1938) was a German expressionist painter and printmaker and one of the founders of the artist’s group Die Brücke or “The Bridge”, a key group leading to the foundation of Expressionism in 20th-century art. He volunteered for army service in the First World War, but soon suffered a breakdown and was discharged. In 1933, his work was branded as “degenerate” by the Nazis and in 1937, over 600 of his works were sold or destroyed. In 1938, he committed suicide by gunshot.
The two paintings are now on display at the Städel (until March 2017).