Bathers Beneath Trees, Fehmarn
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880-1938)
On View

For this scene of nudes in a landscape, Kirchner reimagined the island of Fehmarn as a lush, tropical paradise. A founding member of the German Expressionist collective Die Brücke (The Bridge), Kirchner drew inspiration for his fractured forms and bold palette from the so-called “primitive” nonwestern art he encountered in Germany’s anthropological museums as well as French Post-Impressionist pictures exhibited in Berlin and Dresden. Here, Kirchner’s slashing brushstrokes betray a debt to Cézanne, while green and orange flesh tones suggest the influence of Van Gogh. But the determining inspiration seems to have come from Gauguin. His paintings of Tahiti in the 1890s present the island as a premodern paradise, inspiring Kirchner to describe the Baltic island where he spent his summer vacations as a land of “South Sea opulence.”


  • Artist Name: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880-1938)
  • Title: Bathers Beneath Trees, Fehmarn
  • Date: 1913
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 59-1/2 x 47-1/2 in. (151.1 x 120.7 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1994.1.P
  • Copyright: © (for works by E. L. Kirchner) by Ingeborg & Dr. Wolfgang Henze-Ketterer, Wichtrach/Bern

Object Information

Estate of the artist in 1938;
Estate of artist’s wife, Erna Kirchner until 1945;
Basle Art Museum (maintaining estate) 1945/46-1954;
Brothers of artist, Biberach, Germany, 1954-1955;
[Roman Norbert Ketterer, Lago di Lugano, Switzerland (executor of artist’s estate), 1955-1969];
The Norton Simon Foundation, 1969-1994, transferred to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Austellung der Berliner Sezession

  • Sezessionshaus, 1917-10 to 1917-12

Ausstellung der Berliner Sezession

  • Sezessionshaus, 1918 to

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

  • Kunsthalle Bern, 1933-03-15 to 1933-04-17

E. L. Kirchner

  • Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1950-12-08 to 1951-01-12

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

  • New York, Curt Valentin Gallery, 1952-04-12 to 1952-05-10

[on loan]

  • Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), 1952 to

Austellung Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 1880-1938: Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Graphik. Zur Erinnerung an den 75. Geburtstag des Künstlers

  • Stuttgart, Württembergischer Kunstverein, 1956-09-08 to 1956-10-20

Maler der Brucke

  • Stuttgard, Staatsgalerie, 1959-05-25 to 1959-06-28

Meisterwerke des deutschen Expressionismus: E. L. Kirchner, E. Heckel, Schmidt-Rottluff, M. Pechstein, Otto Mueller

  • Bremen, Kunsthalle, 1960-03-20 to 1960-05-01
  • Hanover, Kunstverein, 1960-05-15 to 1960-06-26
  • Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, 1960-09-18 to 1960-11-20
  • The Hague, Stedelijk-Museum, to
  • Zurich, Kunsthaus, 1961-05-18 to 1961-06-18

L'Espressionismo: Pittura, Scultura, Architettura

  • Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, 1964-05-01 to 1964-06-30

Le Fauvisme français et les débuts de l'Expressionisme Allemand

  • Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, 1966-01-15 to 1966-03-06
  • Munich, Haus der Kunst, 1966-03-26 to 1966-05-15

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Blau-Rot

  • Kunsthalle Basel, 1967-10 to

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

  • Lugano, Museo d'Arte Moderna, 2000-03-12 to 2000-07-02

Ausstellung Der Berlinger Sezession

  • Sezessionshaus, 1917-10-01 to 1917-12-31

Meisterwerke Des Deutschen Expressionismus

The Blue Four and Their Contemporaries

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1991-06-20 to 1992-05-24
  • Ketterer, R. N., Moderne Kunst VI, no. 40 p. 71
  • Apollonio, Umberto, "Die Brücke" e la cultura dell'espressionismo, 1952, no. 42
  • Grohmann, Will, E. L. Kirchner, 1961, p. 96
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 179
  • Gordon, Donald E., Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 2000, no. 357 p. 371
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 645 p. 322
  • Jill Lloyd and Janis Staggs, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 2019, Fig. 18 p. 46, p. 48; p. 48 (ill)
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Head of a Woman Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 1909
Seated Female Nudes Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 1913-1914
Trees in Autumn Ernst Ludwig Kirchner c. 1906

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