Skip to content

The Horror, c. 1902

Leopold Museum,
Pen and India ink wash, spray technique on cadastral paper
32.6×31.1 cm


  • Alfred Kubin

    (Leitmeritz/Litoměřice 1877–1959 Zwickledt)

Unfortunately not on display at the moment
Evoking naked terror and pleasurable chills, Alfred Kubin (1877–1959) confidently uses archetypal primal fears and celebrates the fascination with the grotesque in his nightmarish vision of horror – hence the title of the work The Horror. From the funnel-shaped vortex of the raging sea, a head resembling a skull with a sinewy neck and a broad grin with a few missing teeth rises out of the floods to threaten a wrecked little boat rearing up diagonally from the lower left corner of the picture. Its mast is already broken and protrudes from the empty deck like the stump of a toothpick. Its keel bears the silhouette of a bird’s head – recalling the ornaments of Viking ships – which seems to communicate directly with the monstrous beast. Two tiny human figures at the railing appear ready to defy their horrific opponent: Disheveled by the storm, their coats billowed by the wind, they are facing the bare teeth of the monstrous vision. An inflated eyeball, swollen to incredible size, is bulging from the horrible monster’s left bony socket and seems to be staring with a fixed, pitted pupil at the tiny figures exposed to this horror. Using contrasts of light and dark and a shiny, curving belt of spray, set diagonally into the square format between the calm sea in the background and the torrents of water rising up obliquely in the vortex in the foreground, Kubin skillfully creates a boiling dynamic. The eerie scene executed in 1902 is an early work by the young draftsman and graphic artist, who was able to make a name for himself at an early age with his horrifying visions.

Object data

  • Alfred Kubin
The Horror
c. 1902
Art movement
Graphic work
Pen and India ink wash, spray technique on cadastral paper
32.6×31.1 cm
Signed lower right using India ink: Kubin; designated lower center using pencil: Das Grausen.
Credit line
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 879
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).

If you have further information on this object, please contact us.


Provenance research
Leopold Museum i

Galerie Wolfgang Gurlitt, München (o.D.);
Karl Ruhs, Landshut (vor 1964-1981); (1)
Dr. Rudolf Leopold, Wien (nach 1980-1994); (2)
Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung, Wien (1994).

  1. Hans Albert Peters (Hrsg.), Alfred Kubin. Das zeichnerische Frühwerk bis 1904, Stuttgart 1977, S. 220, Nr. 60 (Abb. S. 221); Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste, Katalog zu “Gedächtnisausstellung Alfred Kubin. 1877-1959”, München 1964, S. 56, Nr. 18; Karl Arndt (Hg.), Alfred Kubin. Mappenwerke, Bücher, Einzelblätter aus der Sammlung Hedwig und Helmut Goedeckemeyer, Göttingen 1980, S. 43f., Nr. 1.12.
  2. Archiv des Leopold Museums, Schreiben von Karl Ruhs mit Ausstellungs- und Literaturangaben an Dr. Rudolf Leopold vom 11.06.1979

For provenance related information, please contact us.