This picture most likely depicts the view from the window of Kokoschka’s studio in Dresden, from which he enjoyed a splendid view of the Elbe River, its bridges, and the houses on the far shore. The three elements of the landscape—water, embankment, and sky—are suggested by bold patches of bright color, and the simple, strongly horizontal composition emphasizes the low buildings and the river’s edge. Painted between 1919, when Kokoschka moved to Dresden, and 1921, this painting is one of the earliest works by the artist to have been acquired by a U.S. museum.
Artist Oskar Kokoschka, Austrian, 1886-1980
  • The Elbe Near Dresden
Date ca. 1921
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 23 1/2 × 31 1/2 inches (59.7 × 80 cm)
Framed: 28 3/16 × 36 1/8 × 1 1/2 inches (71.6 × 91.8 × 3.8 cm)
Credit Line City of Detroit Purchase
Accession Number 21.203
Department European Modern Art to 1950
On View Modern N230, Level 2 (see map)
Signed Signed, lower left: O K
1921-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
German Painting and Sculpture. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1931, no. 52.

Hoffman, E. Kokoschka-Life and Work. London, 1947, no. 125. [as Dresden I]

Retrospective Exhibition of Oskar Kokoschka. Exh. cat., Institute of Contemporary Art. Boston, 1949, no. 26 (ill.).

Oskar Kokoschka. Exh. cat., Haus der Kunst. Munich, 1958, no. 48.

Oskar Kokoschka, the Work of the Painter. Exh. cat., Galerie Welz. Salzburg, 1958, p. 309, no. 135.

German Expressionism. Exh. cat., Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts. Columbus, Ohio, 1961, no. 43.

Bultman, B. Oskar Kokoschka. London, 1961, pp. 70-71 (ill.). [as Dresden New own II, dated 1921]

Kokoschka. Exh. cat., Tate Gallery. London, 1962, no. 58 (pl. 19).

Kokoschka. Exh. cat., Marlborough-Gerson Gallery. New York, 1966, p. 41, no. 21 (ill.).

Erwerbungsberichte, vol. II. Hamburg, Germany, 1966, p. 172, no. 11.

Cinco Siglos de Obras Maestras. Exh. cat., Museo de Jade. San Jose, Costa Rica, 1978, pp. 24, 51 (ill.).

Uhr, H. Masterpieces of German Expressionism at the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1982, p. 122 (ill.).