Raphael Kirchner

Austrian, 1876 - 1917

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La première voilette  by Raphael Kirchner
La première voilette
Les Joueuses  by Raphael Kirchner
Les Joueuses
Rose respirant une Femme  by Raphael Kirchner
Rose respirant une Femme
The Green Lantern  by Raphael Kirchner
The Green Lantern
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BIOGRAPHY

Raphael Kirchner was born in Vienna, Austria. He is best known for his saucy 'glamour' postcards of young women which were very popular with the troops during World War I. He moved to New York shortly before his death in 1917 where he continued to work as an artist and also created costume designs for theatre musicals.

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The following biographical information comes from 'Till the Boys Come Home: The Picture Postcards of the First World War' (Tonie and Valmai Holt, Deltiologists of America, 1977):

"Kirchner was born in Vienna in 1876 and later moved to Paris. He drew for La Vie Parisienne together with artists like Mucha, all of whom were greatly influenced by the work of British artist Aubrey Beardsley, who had created an 'art nouveau' style of his own. Mucha went on to concentrate on posters and Kirchner was drawing for postcards by 1901. His cards are treasured items for collectors today, the earliest being in the Japanese idiom that was fashionable at the beginning of the century. The model for all his cards was his wife Nina, and following his death in August 1917 she first tried to commit suicide and then went out of her mind through excessive use of drugs.

Kirchner's cards of the war years are not so draughtsmanlike as his earlier cards. They are more direct, easier for the soldier to identify himself with than the ephemeral beauties of La Vie. Other French artists drew girls--Sager, Herouard, Fontan, and Italians too, like Mauzan and Rappini--but Kirchner was the favourite, his were the cards that were pinned up in the trenches. His cards were the original pin-ups.

The Tommy called Kirchner 'Kirsonner' and young officers had competitions to see who could collect the most cards. In the 3 July 1916 issue of the Kemmel Times, a trench newspaper, Gilbert Frankau wrote a poem entitled The Nuts of the Old Brigade. It was a lament for lost Gunner companions and one of the verses went like this:
    'O where is Bob of the big moustache?
    An alien adjutant shoots
    For the Major-man that I used to know
    With his Kirchner ladies all in a row
    And his seventeen pairs of boots.'
"

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The following biographical information comes from 'Moments et Folies de la Femme Fatale' (Whitford & Hughes, London, 1985):

"Raphael Kirchner began his career as a portrait painter for the fashionable and the Nouveau Riche in Vienna.

In 1900 he moved to Paris where, although still very much in demand as a portrait painter, he also became established as an illustrator for the fashionable magazines of the day--particularly for La Vie Parisienne.

It was Kirchner's witty, accurate portrayal of the seamier, yet perhaps the most exciting and glamourous aspects of Parisian night life--of the world of the bar and of the boudoir--that provided the real road to success for the artist. Kirchner's alluring, often erotic depictions of the typical Montmartre female in La Vie Parisienne and in watercolours and pastels such as 'Les Joueuses' became so popular that the prettiest and most expensive of the 'Montmartre Girls' became associated with the artist's images of them, and were duly dubbed 'Kirchner Girls'.

With the outbreak of the First World War, Kirchner moved to New York where he continued working as a portrait painter and illustrator until the end of his life."

FIND PRINTS & BOOKS

Next to Godliness, Raphael Kirchner
Prints & Posters  
The Golden Age, Raphael Kirchner
Prints & Posters  
Golden-Haired Beauty, Raphael Kirchner
Prints & Posters  
Sailor Girl, Raphael Kirchner
Prints & Posters  
Love in the Back Seat, Raphael Kirchner
Prints & Posters  

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EXHIBITIONS ARCHIVE

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