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Death as a Horseman, 1906

Leopold Museum,
Gouache on cadastral paper
28.7×47.2 cm


  • Alfred Kubin

    (Leitmeritz/Litoměřice 1877–1959 Zwickledt)

Unfortunately not on display at the moment
In his 1906 work Death as a Horseman, a gruesome, yet captivating vision of terror, the Austrian draftsman and graphic artist Alfred Kubin (1877–1959) uses gouache on cadastral paper to create a gloomy grisaille of soft and flowing shapes and brownish shades of gray depicting a skeleton, dressed in a wide female garment and leaning forward, riding on the croup of a horse struggling through roaring floods. The tortured face of the horse reflects the animal’s exhausting battle against the forces of nature. The ground beneath its hoofs seems to be slipping and the horse appears to be trying desperately to reach the shore. In the apocalyptic scene, countless humans are drifting in the gurgling floods, fighting for survival. Some of them seem to have exhausted their strength. A few helpless bodies have found an illusive refuge on a sandbank-like promontory. The floods will take them away. A solitary figure is balancing on a beam that protrudes over the raging waters. Kubin uses an oval brightening to bring out this oppressive hallucinatory scenario of pandemonium, which thus appears lit as if by a spotlight shining into darkness. The diffuse background rendered with nebulous, frothing agglomerations of color further enhances the notion of utter hopelessness.

Object data

  • Alfred Kubin
Death as a Horseman
Art movement
Graphic work
Gouache on cadastral paper
28.7×47.2 cm
Signed lower right: AKubin
Credit line
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 874
Inventory access
Contributed to the Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung in 1994
Selection of Reference works
  • Alfred Kubin. Bekenntnisse einer gequälten Seele, hrsg. von Hans-Peter Wipplinger, Köln 2022 (Ausst.-Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien, 16.04.2022–24.07.2022).
  • Wien 1900. Sammlung Leopold, hrsg. von Diethard Leopold/Peter Weinhäupl, Wien u.a. 2009.
  • Alfred Kubin. Aus meinem Reich. Meisterblätter aus dem Leopold Museum, hrsg. von Rudolf Leopold/Romana Schuler, Wien 2002 (Ausst.-Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien, 05.10.2002-06.01.2003).

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