Kirchner studied at the academy of arts in Leipzig under Friedrich Brauer and in Dresden under Johan Christian Clausen Dahl (1788-1857) and Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840). In 1834 Kirchner moved to Munich. From Munich he travelled several times to Tyrol and Northern Italy, he also visited Heidelberg esp. during the summer months. Kirchner was a honorary member of the academy of arts in Munich.