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The Hour of Birth, 1901/02

Leopold Museum,
Pen and India ink wash, spray technique on cadastral paper
25.5×30.6 cm


  • Alfred Kubin

    (Leitmeritz/Litoměřice 1877–1959 Zwickledt)

Unfortunately not on display at the moment
The imageries to which we are introduced by the Austrian draftsman, graphic artist, book illustrator, set decorator and writer Alfred Kubin (1877–1959), born in Leitmeritz in Bohemia, are disturbing and surreal: We find ourselves face to face with a crustacean perched on the wall of an embankment frontally opposite the picture plane, its tiny legs nestled close to the hard shell of its body. With its menacingly huge chitin claws, it seems to be searching the water below – its right claw is lying on the surface of the water as if preparing to grab something. In the empty celestial space above, a human baby is suspended in mid-air, as if frozen in the act of jumping, its back turned to the beholders. With fine pen strokes that sometimes appear agitated, India ink wash and an atmospherically dense background rendered with spray technique, Kubin creates The Hour of Birth in technical perfection in 1901/02 – a highly expressive image filled with nightmarish symbolism.

Object data

  • Alfred Kubin
The Hour of Birth
Art movement
Graphic work
Pen and India ink wash, spray technique on cadastral paper
25.5×30.6 cm
Designated lower left using pencil: Die Stunde der Geburt; numbered lower left using pencil: 2006
Credit line
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 877
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).
  • 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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Provenance research
Leopold Museum i

Max Morgenstern, Wien später London (vor 1937-1947); (1)
Hertha Morgenstern, später Morton, London (1947-1962),
Bob William Morton, London (ab 1962); (2)
Franz Armin Morat, Freiburg im Breisgau (vor 1977-1981); (3)
Dr. Rudolf Leopold, Wien (vor 1985-1994); (4)
Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung, Wien (1994).

  1. Sammlerstempel „Max Morgenstern, Wien XIII., Hietzinger-Hauptstrasse 34a“ auf der Blattrückseite; Albertina Kulturbund, Katalog zu „Alfred Kubin. Handzeichnungen, Aquarelle und druckgrafische Arbeiten“, Wien 1937, S. 10, Nr. 9;
  2. Sonja Niederacher, Dossier Max Morgenstern und Hertha Morgenstern, 21. Dezember 2009, S. 5f.
  3. Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Katalog „Alfred Kubin. Das zeichnerische Frühwerk bis 1904“, Wien 1977, (o. S.) Nr. 48; Karl Arndt (Hg.), Alfred Kubin. Mappenwerke, Bücher, Einzelblätter aus der Sammlung Hedwig und Helmut Goedeckemeyer, Göttingen 1980, S. 31, Nr. 1.2
  4. Telefonische Auskunft von Franz Armin Morat vom 22.05.2017; Klaus Albrecht Schröder, Katalog zu „Alfred Kubin. Leben ein Abgrund“, Wien u. München 1985, S. 80, Nr. 30

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