Rhein II

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Rhein II
A grey river flowing horizontally through green fields under an overcast sky
Artist Andreas Gursky
Year 1999
Type Photograph
Medium C-print mounted to acrylic glass
Dimensions 190 cm × 360 cm (73 in × 143 in); [1]
Owner Anonymous

Rhein II is a photograph made by German visual artist Andreas Gursky in 1999.[2] In 2011, a print was auctioned for $4.3 million (then £2.7m), making it the most expensive photograph ever sold.


The photograph was produced as the second (and largest) of a set of six depicting the River Rhine.[2] In the image, the Rhine flows horizontally across the field of view, between green fields, under an overcast sky.[3]

Extraneous details such as dog-walkers and a factory building were removed by the artist using digital editing.[4] Justifying this manipulation of the image, Gursky said "Paradoxically, this view of the Rhine cannot be obtained in situ, a fictitious construction was required to provide an accurate image of a modern river."[5] Gursky produced a very large chromogenic colour print of the photograph, mounted it onto acrylic glass, and then placed it in a frame.[5] The image itself measures 73 by 143 inches (190 cm × 360 cm), while the frame measures 81 by 151 inches (210 cm × 380 cm).[1]

Reception and sale[edit]

The print was originally acquired by the Galerie Monika Sprüth in Cologne, and subsequently bought by an anonymous German collector.[1] The collector sold the print by auction at Christie's New York on 8 November 2011, who estimated it would fetch a price of $2.5–3.5m.[1] It actually sold for $4,338,500[1] (then about £2.7m); the identity of the buyer has not been revealed.[4]

The work has been described by arts writer Florence Waters in The Daily Telegraph as a "vibrant, beautiful and memorable – I should say unforgettable – contemporary twist on [...] the romantic landscape"[6] and by journalist Maev Kennedy in The Guardian as "a sludgy image of the grey Rhine under grey skies".[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Sale 2480 / Lot 44". Christie's. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Andreas Gursky's Rhein II sets photo record". BBC News. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Skarda, Erin (11 November 2011). "And Here's the Most Expensive Photograph in the World". Time. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Kennedy, Maev (11 November 2011). "Andreas Gursky's Rhine II photograph sells for $4.3m". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Waters, Florence (11 November 2011). "Photograph by Andreas Gursky breaks auction record". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  6. ^ Waters, Florence (11 November 2011). "Why is Andreas Gursky's Rhine II the most expensive photograph?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 

External links[edit]