The two childish figures who feature prominently in the Brücke works and who play an important role in their primitivist iconography are Marzella and Fränzi, the daughters of an artist's widow
who lived near Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. They are often shown both clothed and nude and are frequently associated with genuine tribal artifacts or African-inspired objects. To the Brücke, both children and tribal art were symbols of a positive desire for regeneration and renewal.
Unlike his friend and fellow Brücke-member Kirchner, Erich Heckel had a tendency to revisit his woodblocks and plates months or even years later to rework and reprint them. As a consequence it is sometimes difficult to identify when precisely a particular impression was printed, and so it is with the present work. The earliest impressions of Fränzi liegend all have a strong "workshop" character and demonstrate that Heckel was more interested in the printing process than in the finished print. The four impressions that are known with some certainty to have been printed in 1910 are irregularly, almost carelessly inked and clearly show the application of the inks by hand or brush; the black block prints with much structure within the torso and legs, and the paper shows considerable handling marks, such as fingerprints and accidental brushstrokes in the margins.
The other known impressions, not more than twenty, were probably printed in the early 1950s when Heckel's work, after being discredited during the Nazi-era and being partly lost and destroyed during the war, began to be rediscovered and appreciated. It must have been then that the artist decided to print a small edition of Fränzi liegend, one of his graphic masterpieces, for the main print rooms, private collectors and a few select art dealers in Germany.
These impressions, most of which are now in public collections, differ somewhat noticeably from the early proofs. The inking, especially in the red, is slightly more homogeneous and opaque, and many of the sculptural marks on the torso, especially at her groin, abdomen and breasts, have disappeared. (Dube thought these differences indicated the block had been re-cut and designated it as a second state.) Although "cleaner" in appearance than the early proofs, the red still has the wonderful transparent and modulated structure, and the torso retains some of the earlier sculptural quality of this exceedingly rare work.