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Starvation, c. 1901

Leopold Museum,
India ink, pen, watercolor, spray technique on cadastral paper
31.2×39 cm


  • Alfred Kubin

    (Leitmeritz/Litoměřice 1877–1959 Zwickledt)

Unfortunately not on display at the moment
A force of nature or the product of human baseness? Does the 1901 India ink drawing Starvation provide an answer to this question? The multi-talented artist Alfred Kubin (1877–1959) leaves none of the details to chance: On the back of a horse with flaring nostrils, pinned-back ears and gritted teeth, its eyes wide with terror and its rear part skeletonized, which is galloping at breathtaking speed through an endless desert of ice towards a sea of freezing cold water, a figure in Napoleonic attire with knee-length boots and spurs is sitting upright – with its head missing. Its tightly wrapped cloak disguises its torso – only the stump of the neck remains visible – and is blowing in the strong headwind, wrinkling in shaggy folds behind the human figure. The head of the rider, depicted in profile with a bizarrely distorted grimace, is impaled on the tip of the long lance which the decapitated figure is holding under its arm in a knight-like manner during its breakneck ride. Instead of a tail, the half-bony horse merely has a stretched-out skeletal stub adorned with a thin tassel of hair. Kubin uses pen, India ink and spray technique to invite us into the abysmal, nightmarish universes of his rich imagination.

Object data

  • Alfred Kubin
c. 1901
Art movement
Graphic work
India ink, pen, watercolor, spray technique on cadastral paper
31.2×39 cm
Signed lower right using brown ink: AKubin; designated lower left using pencil: Hungersnoth; dedicated lower center: sl.l. Grafe in Erinnerung an vom 24. Juni 1911 Kubin
Credit line
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 917
Inventory access
Contributed to the Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung in 1994
Selection of Reference works
  • 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

Marianne Grafe, später Haeutler, Wien (1911); (1)
Max Morgenstern, Wien später London (vor 1938-1947);
Hertha Morgenstern, später Morton, London (1947-1962);
Bob William Morton, London (1962-1972); (2)
Auktion: 29.11.1972, Sotheby`s, London, Drawings and Waltercoulours by Alfred Kubin from the Collection of the late Max Morgenstern of Vienna, Lot 12; (3)
Franz Armin Morat, Freiburg im Breisgau (1972–1981); (4)
Rudolf Leopold, Wien (vor 1985-1994); (5)
Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung, Wien (1994).

  1. bezeichnet links unten mit Bleistift: „Hungersnoth“; Widmung in Blattmitte unten: „s. l. Grafe in Erinnerung an vom 24. Juni 1911 Kubin“ (Anm.: Marianne Grafe war eine Freundin Kubins aus der Münchner Zeit)
  2. Rückseitig Stempel: Max Morgenstern, Wien XIII., Hietzinger-Hauptstrasse 34a; Sonja Niederacher, Dossier Max Morgenstern und Hertha Morgenstern, 21. Dezember 2009, S. 5f.
  3. Sotheby & Co., Catalogue of Important Impressionists and Modern Watercolours and Drawings – Part I, London 1972, S. 16.
  4. Hans Peter Albers (Hrsg.), Katalog zur Ausstellung ”Alfred Kubin. Das zeichnerische Frühwerk bis 1904”, Baden-Baden 1977, S. 226, Nr. 62; Karl Arndt (Hg.), Alfred Kubin. Mappenwerke, Bücher, Einzelblätter aus der Sammlung Hedwig und Helmut Goedeckemeyer, Göttingen 1980, S. 35f., Nr. 1.8
  5. Telefonische Auskunft von Franz Armin Morat vom 22.05.2017; Österreichische Länderbank u. Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum, Katalog zur Ausstellung „Alfred Kubin. Leben ein Abgrund“, Wien u. München 1985, S. 80, Nr. 31

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