The moon paintings by Lovis Corinth


The German painter Lovis Corinth (1858–1925) is considered one of the most important representatives of German Impressionism, in his late work also Expressionism. In 1919, his wife built a house for him at the Lake Walchen, south of Munich in the Bavarian Alps. The following years, he spent a lot of time there and derived his inspiration from the landscape and lighting atmosphere for numerous paintings, which often show Lake Walchen.

Among these pictures there are four paintings that contain the Moon, three of them also mention it in the title:

»Walchensee, Johannisnacht« 1920 [Walchensee, Midsummer Night]
»Walchensee, Mondnacht« 1920 [Walchensee, Moonlit Night]
»Junimond« 1920 [June Moon]
»Walchensee, aufgehender Mond« 1922 [Walchensee, Rising Moon]

The Moon appears mostly round and looks like it could be the full moon, although this is not quite certain due to the expressionistic painting style. Corinth probably did not pay much attention to the respective lunar phases, but generally painted the Moon as a symbol for light in the night as a circle. This particularly becomes apparent in the picture »Walchensee, Johannisnacht« [Walchensee, Midsummer Night] from 1920. Midsummer Night is the evening before Saint John’s Eve. It is therefore the night of the 23rd to the 24th of June in 1920. Taking a look at the full moon calendar 1920, shows us that there was a waxing moon crescent on this night at Lake Walchen (full moon was on 1st July 1920). The full moon that can be seen in the painting was actually not the Moon in the sky, but rather an inner image of the artist.


Another moon painting is the »Walchensee, Mondnacht« [Walchensee, Moonlit Night], likewise from 1920. It shows the lake in a nightly scenery with a slightly cloud-covered Moon that seems to show its reflection in the water. The painting has a vivid and lively effect and reflects the intense experience of nature by the painter, who managed to express this almost without forms, but merely by brush strokes and light.


The German pianist Martin Vatter ( drew his inspiration from »Walchensee, Mondnacht« [Walchensee, Moonlit Night] and composed a piano piece, which you can listen to right here:

You are welcome to buy this music on CD or as a download:
Music CD »Klangbilder«:
Download »Klangbilder«: iTunes

Surely, it was the Moon that led Lovis Corinth to create these works. Because he mostly painted in the open air, it is easy to imagine how he stood in the middle of this landscape and was enchanted by the moonlight. Whoever paints should definitely try this some time. Maybe Lovis Corinth will be watching from afar?

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