Markus Kruss, Berlin
Private Collection, Switzerland
Wolfgang Wittrock Kunsthandel, Dusseldorf
Sale: Villa Grisebach, Berlin, 2nd June 1989, lot 152
Jan Ahlers, Herford
Christophe Douglas, Frankfurt & David Nash, New York (acquired from the above in 2001)
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Munich, Moderne Galerie Heinrich Thannhauser, Moderne Deutsche Graphik, 1919, no. 544
Dresden, Galerie Neue Kunst Fides Dresden, Franz Marc. Aquarelle - Zeichnungen - Graphik, 1927, no. 44
Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Franz Marc, 1963, no. 179
Dusseldorf, Kunsthandel Wolfgang Wittrock, Franz Marc, 1880-1916. Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Graphik, 1984, no. 10, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Berlin, Brücke Museum; Essen, Museum Folkwang & Tübingen, Kunsthalle, Franz Marc, Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, 1989-90, no. 157, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Deutsche Expressionisten, Aquarelle und Zeichnungen im Berliner Kupferstichkabinett, 1992, no. 155, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Munich, Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst & Münster, Westfälisches Landesmuseum, Franz Marc. Kräfte der Natur. Werke 1912-1915, 1993-94, no. 49, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Kochel, Franz Marc Museum (on loan)
Berlin, Käthe-Kollwitz-Museum; Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus; Duisburg, Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Museum; Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle; Salzburg, Rupertinum; Emden, Kunsthalle, Stiftung Henri Nannen; Bielefeld, Kunsthalle; Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum; Stuttgart, Galerie der Stadt Stuttgart & Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden - Albertinum, Expressionistische Bilder. Sammlung Firmengruppe Ahlers, 1994-2000, no. 11, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, Franz Marc - Pferde, 2000, no. 108, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Alois Jakob Schardt, Franz Marc, Berlin, 1936, no. II-1913-34
Klaus Lankheit, Franz Marc. Katalog der Werke, Cologne, 1970, no. 482, illustrated p. 157
Susanna Partsch, Franz Marc 1880-1916, Cologne, 1990, illustrated in colour p. 74
Claus Pese, Franz Marc. Aquarelle, Munich, 1990, no. 27, illustrated in colour
Franz Marc Stiftung Kochel am See (ed.), Franz Marc und der Blaue Reiter, Munich, 1998, illustrated in colour on the cover
Christian von Holst, Franz Marc Horses, Ostfildern-Ruit, 2000, no. 147, illustrated in colour p. 162
Annegret Hoberg & Isabelle Jansen, Franz Marc: The Complete Works, London, 2004, vol. II, no. 249, illustrated in colour p. 246
This image of an animal in nature, which dominated Marc's subject matter throughout his artistic career, reflects not only his profound love and deep fascination with the animal world, but also his unique position within the avant-garde art in the early twentieth century.
As emphasised by the title of the present work, Marc depicts here an idyllic, fairy-tale world of harmony and peaceful unity of nature. This imaginary, mythical environment, coupled with the nearly-abstract treatment of colour and form, elevates the work to a symbolic level, where the image stands as an allegory of the human condition. Returning to this subject throughout his career, Marc experimented with various stylistic forms of expression, ranging from a more realistic form with fauve-like treatment of colour, to the linear, geometric and highly stylised manner seen in the present work. In several monumental oils of 1913 and 1914 Marc increasingly abandoned references to naturalism, to achieve a deeply expressive abstract form.
Like other major artists working in Germany at this time, such as Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Ludwig Meidner and George Grosz, Marc was widely influenced by contemporary artistic developments in Italy and France. In particular, the influence of Italian Futurism is strongly reflected in the present work. In the spring of 1912, Galerie der Sturm in Berlin organised the first exhibition of Futurist art ever shown in Germany, and one of the first of its kind outside Italy. Despite its low critical acclaim, the exhibition was extremely popular with the Berlin public, and was to play a crucial role in the artistic development of Marc and other German Expressionist painters. The impact of the Futurists, in particular the work of Balla and Boccioni (figs. 1 & 2), whose equation of energy and line coincided with Marc's belief in the organic rhythm that existed in all things, was immediately apparent in Marc's works of this period.
As Serge Fauchereau wrote: 'During 1912, Marc was deeply impressed by a Futurist exhibition at the Der Sturm Gallery, and he met Delaunay in the same year. Up to this time, Marc had painted in a jagged, muscular style, reminiscent of Fauvism, but now, influenced by both movements, without abandoning the animal theme, his paintings and woodcuts became structurally even more dynamic and complex. His use of colour, already entirely subjective, took on a new Futurist strength and born from a vision marked by an intense vitality, his paintings between 1912 and 1915 literally exploded in jets of colour' (S. Fauchereau, Futurismo & Futurismi (exhibition catalogue), Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 1986, p. 510).
In December 1911 Marc and Kandinsky organised the first exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter group, inviting Henri Rousseau and Robert Delaunay to participate. The choice of Delaunay (fig. 3) shows the extraordinary prescience of Marc and Kandinsky, for the French painter was virtually unknown at the time. With its juxtaposition of flat colour planes and natural forms simplified to geometric shapes, the present work testifies to the crucial influence of Delaunay's nearly abstract compositions on Marc's work. He met Delaunay with August Macke in the autumn of 1912, and the French artist's pioneering use of colour and his angular, prismatic planes had an immediate influence on Marc.
Although he shared the formal vocabulary of linear dynamism verging with geometric abstraction with artists such as Boccioni and Delaunay, Marc's artistic vision of the world differs radically from that of his contemporaries. Whilst the Futurists were celebrating the dynamic energy of the city and modern urban life and Delaunay was marvelling at the achievements and great monuments of modernity, such as the Eiffel Tower and the familiar Parisian cityscape, Marc's preoccupation was with nature and the 'primitive' world. In applying these formal elements to animal imagery, Marc sought to liberate painting from the literal, figurative image of the world in order to reach a symbolic dimension which unified man with the forces of nature, creating a universal, harmonious unity. As the artist wrote in 1912: 'Nature glows in our pictures as in every form of art. Nature is everywhere, in us and outside us; there is only one thing that is not altogether nature, but rather the overcoming and interpreting of nature: art. Art always has been and is in its very essence the boldest departure from nature and 'naturalness'. It is the bridge into the spirit world... the necromancy of the human race' (quoted in Peter Selz, German Expressionist Painting, Berkeley, 1974, p. 210).
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