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The Best Physician, c. 1901

Leopold Museum,
India ink, pen, watercolor, spray technique on cadastral paper
27.1×38.6 cm


  • Alfred Kubin

    (Leitmeritz/Litoměřice 1877–1959 Zwickledt)

Unfortunately not on display at the moment
Alfred Kubin (1877–1959) once again demonstrates his deeply black humor and his ability to stage horror in an immediate yet elegant manner in his work The Best Physician, which the Upper Austria-based multi-talented artist created around 1901: An emaciated, thin figure that appears to have slid down from its pillows is lying flat on a gathered bedsheet in a dazzlingly white nightshirt that clings tightly to the extremely long, slim body. The figure is squirming and its hands are folded in front of its chest. Its pelvis is tilting up, lifting the hips off the bed. The fragile body is arched – as if the figure were being choked. And indeed: Behind the beam-like structure of the bed, which fills the lower half of the picture with fluffed up pillows at the head and a draped white sheet at the foot that has partly slid off the bed and is streaming into the foreground, Lady Death is standing in a black, strapless tube dress with a medallion dangling in front of her chest. Her stance is slightly bent. Her left bony hand is on her hip while her right hand is on the face of the white-clad figure, violently choking it. The grinning skull is looking directly at the covered face of the dying figure. The scene is executed with fine pen strokes of India ink. The background is kept vague, using spray technique, and enhances the oppressive atmosphere of the terrifying scene.

Object data

  • Alfred Kubin
The Best Physician
c. 1901
Art movement
Graphic work
India ink, pen, watercolor, spray technique on cadastral paper
27.1×38.6 cm
Signed lower right: AKubin; designated lower center: Der beste Arzt
Credit line
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 928
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 1938-1947);
Hertha Morgenstern, später Morton, London (1947-1962);
Bob William Morton, London (1962-1972); (1)
Auktion: 29.11.1972, Sotheby`s, London, Drawings and Waltercoulours by Alfred Kubin from the Collection of the late Max Morgenstern of Vienna, Lot 4; (2)
Dr. Rudolf Leopold, Wien (1972-1994); (3)
Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung, Wien (1994).

  1. Rückseitig Stempel: Max Morgenstern, Wien XIII., Hietzinger-Hauptstrasse 34a; Sonja Niederacher, Dossier Max Morgenstern und Hertha Morgenstern, 21. Dezember 2009, S. 5f.
  2. Sotheby & Co., Catalogue of Important Impressionists and Modern Watercolours and Drawings – Part I, London 1972, S. 8
  3. Rechnung von Sotheby & Co vom 06.12.1972; Hans Peter Albers (Hrsg.), Katalog zur Ausstellung ”Alfred Kubin. Das zeichnerische Frühwerk bis 1904”, Baden-Baden 1977, S. 126, Nr. 28; Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Katalog zur Ausstellung „Alfred Kubin. Das zeichnerische Frühwerk bis 1904“, Wien 1977, (o. S.) Nr. 28

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