Franz Marc (1880-1916)
Franz Marc (1880-1916)

Springendes Pferd

Franz Marc (1880-1916)
Springendes Pferd
signed with the initial 'M.' (lower right)
gouache and watercolour on paper laid down on board
15 5/8 x 18 in. (39.7 x 45.7 cm.)
Executed in 1913
Herwarth Walden, Berlin, by 1914.
Major Karl von Schintling, Munich.
Marie von Schintling, Munich.
Dr Ernst Schneider, Dusseldorf.
Galerie Aenne Abels, Cologne.
Siegfried Adler, Montagnola.
Hans Ravenborg, Hamburg, by whom acquired from the above in November 1977; sale, Christie's, London, 9 October 1997, lot 148.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
A.J. Schardt, Franz Marc, Berlin, 1936, no. II-1913-26, p. 168.
H. Bünemann, Franz Marc. Zeichnungen - Aquarelle, Munich, 1952 (illustrated next to illustration 45).
L.-G. Buchheim, Der Blaue Reiter und die 'Neue Künstlervereinigung München', Feldafing, 1959, p. 163 (illustrated).
K. Lankheit, 'Zur Bildtradition bei Franz Marc', in Festschrift für Herbert von Einem, Berlin, 1965, p. 135 (illustrated pl. 27, no. 3).
K. Lankheit, Franz Marc: Katalog der Werke, Cologne, 1970, no. 466, p. 151 (illustrated).
D.E. Gordon, Modern Art Exhibitions 1900-1916, vol. II, Munich, 1974, p. 892.
K. Lankheit, Franz Marc, Sein Leben und seine Kunst, Cologne, 1976, no. 38, p. 222 (illustrated p. 189).
U. Horn, 'Subjektive Revolte gegen die herrschende Kunst. Zum 100. Geburtstag von Franz Marc', in Bildende Kunst, 1980, no. 2, p. 91 (illustration 5).
A. Hüneke, Franz Marc, Zitronenpferd und Feuerochse, Leipzig, 1990 (illustrated pl. 61).
A. Hoberg & I. Jansen, Franz Marc, The Complete Works, Volume 2, Works on Paper, Postcards, Decorative Arts and Sculpture, London, 2004, no. 233, p. 220 (illustrated pp. 22 & 221).
V. Adolphs, ed., August Macke and Franz Marc: An Artist Friendship, Kunstmuseum Bonn & Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, Ostfildern, 2014, p. 44 (illustrated).
Berlin, Galerie der Sturm, Dreiundvierzigste Ausstellung. Expressionisten, Futuristen, Kubisten, July 1916, no. 49.
Munich, Münchner Neue Sezession, Franz Marc Gedächtnis-Ausstellung, 1916, no. 136.
Dresden, Galerie Neue Kunst Fides, Ausstellung Franz Marc: Aquarelle - Zeichnungen - Graphik, October - November 1927, no. 100.
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Ausstellung, January - February 1935, no. 130? (dated '1911').
Berlin, Galerie Nierendorf, Franz Marc Gedächtnis-Ausstellung der Galerie Nierendorf, 1936, no. 51.
Munich, Galerie Günther Franke, Franz Marc, November - December 1946, no. 33.
Munich, Moderne Galerie Otto Stangl, Franz Marc: Aquarelle und Zeichnungen, 1949, no. 59; this exhibition later travelled to nine cities in Germany between 1949 and 1950.
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Art in Revolt, Germany 1905-1925, October - November 1959, no. 92 (illustrated p. 144).
Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Franz Marc Ausstellung, August - October 1963, no. 176.
Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, Franz Marc. Pferde, May - September 2000, no. 103a (illustrated p. 268).

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Anna Povejsilova
Anna Povejsilova

Lot Essay

Painted in 1913, Springendes Pferd is a radiant, partially abstracted portrait of a horse running through the landscape in which both the landscape and the animal itself have become integrated into a united vision of harmoniously abstract form and colour . With its rhythmically curved and radiating forms generating a vibrant cavalcade of seemingly motional coloured forms, the painting is one of the artist’s first expressions of his idealized vision of the world as a holistic, harmonious and abstract spiritual entity. As with so many of Marc’s celebrated animal paintings, the artist’s spiritual vision is here centred around the powerful and strongly symbolic form of a horse.

Marc’s intensely spiritual vision of the world was in part a revolt against the empirical and materialist ethics of the newly industrialized Germany in which he lived. This new materialist era in which Marc found himself was one that he believed was fast propelling itself towards its own end. Fuelled by his own deliberately contrary and intensely spiritualized vision of the world, Marc believed that the purpose of art at this time was to herald or point the way to a new era of the spirit and an anti-materialistic understanding of the world. His vision was rooted in an atavistic pantheism, common to the Romantic era that was, in Marc’s case, personified by animals and by what he felt to be their innately spiritual understanding of the world.

‘I am seeking a feeling for the organic rhythm in all things, a pantheistic empathy into the shaking and flowing of the blood in nature, in trees, in animals, in the air.’ Marc wrote. ‘I see no happier means to the "animalisation of art", as I would like to call it, than the animal picture. Therefore I treat it accordingly’ (K. Lankheit, ed., Franz Marc: Schriften, Cologne, 1978, p. 98). Of all the animals that Marc empathized with and painted, the horse was the most important. The blue horse in particular was, for Marc, a kind of spiritual alter-ego and certain of his paintings of it can be regarded as idealized self-portraits. Not only is the blue horse symbolically bound up with the originating concept of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) group that he had founded with Kandinsky, but, like this concept, it was a vehicle of spiritual breakthrough. With blue symbolizing spirituality, the riderless blue horse was for Marc both the symbol and the physical embodiment of pure Nature and of untamed spiritual intuition - the determining force, Marc felt, in the drive to create the New age of the spirit.

In the same way that for Marc, the blue horse symbolized the potential of spiritual breakthrough, blue mountains were often included in Marc’s paintings as representations of his spiritual aspirations. In effect they depicted the spiritual landscape of the new age. Having developed this simple colour symbolism, in 1913 Marc began, under the influence of the French artist Robert Delaunay, to seek to create an overall synthesis of his vision; one that would express the innate symbiotic union between animal and landscape. Exploring a cubistic break-up of form and strengthening both the symbolism and intensity of his colour, Marc’s aims to create a unified portrait of his spiritual vision now led him increasingly towards abstraction.

In an essay which he entitled ‘How does a Horse see the World?’, Marc asked, ‘Is there a more mysterious idea for an artist than to imagine how nature is reflected in the eye of an animal? How does a horse see the world, how does an eagle, a deer or a dog? How impoverished, soulless is our convention of placing animals in a landscape familiar to our own eyes rather than transporting ourselves into the soul of the animal in order to divine its visual world’ (K. Lankheit, ed., Franz Marc: Schriften, Cologne, 1978, p. 99). With its curved and radiating forms of the landscape seemingly generating a sense of the horse’s integrated relationship with the landscape around him as he runs through it, Springendes Pferd is one of the first of Marc’s works from 1913 to express this growing tendency in his art and to reflect the increasing drive towards an abstract vision of the world that was to distinguish Marc’s art until his tragic death on the Western Front in 1916.

In 1913 Marc had been inspired by the example of Delacroix’s pictures of horses and beasts of prey to begin a number of studies of animals in motion. Springendes Pferd is a work that marks the culmination of a series of works from 1913 that depict the figure of a horse looking back over its shoulder. The idea for these works seems to have originated in a 15th Century fresco painting of a horse by a Meran artist that Marc had seen in the Church of St George in the small Tyrolean town of Schenna while on a hiking trip with his wife in March of this year. The sequence of works that this fresco gave rise to includes the watercolour Rotes und blaues Pferd of 1913 now in the Lenbachhaus in Munich, Zwei Pferde in Landschaft from sketchbook XXXI, and the postcard that Marc sent to the poet Else Lasker-Schüler depicting what he described as her ‘battlehorse’ in the watercolour entitled The Battlehorse of Prince Yussuf. Executed in gouache and watercolour on card, Springendes Pferd is by far the largest and fullest rendering of this theme. And, unlike these other depictions, it is a work that seeks to integrate the figure of the horse into its landscape surroundings, so as to form a complete, fully coloured picture in which the entire scene becomes one single, harmonious and rhythmic play of near-abstract form and colour. Through such an ‘abstracting’ process Marc hoped to be able to express not just a sense of the synthesis between the animal and its environment, but also to suggest something of a horse’s uniquely unified vision of the world.

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