Paul Klee (1879-1940)
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Paul Klee (1879-1940)

Das arme Sünderglöcklein

Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Das arme Sünderglöcklein
signed 'Klee' (lower left); dated, numbered and titled '1913 110 Das Arme Sünderglöcklein' (along the lower margin of the artist's mount)
pen and ink on paper laid down on the artist's mount
Image size: 5¼ x 6¾ in. (13.3 x 17.2 cm.)
Mount size: 7 x 9¾ in. (17.8 x 24.8 cm.)
Executed in 1913
Nierendorf Gallery, New York, no. 687.
Acquired from the above by the father of the present owner.
The Paul Klee Foundation (ed.), Paul Klee Catalogue Raisonnée vol. II, 1913-1918, London 2000, no. 1012.
New York, Nierendorf Gallery, Paul Klee - Presented by the Art Students League of New York, January - February 1941, no. 33.
Cambridge (MA), Busch-Reisinger Museum, XXth Century Germanic Art from Private Collections in Greater Boston, March - May 1961, no. 94.61.
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Lot Essay

'The little bell, tolled during an execution' is the meaning of the playful title of this work. The work shows various individuals hanging at the gallows on the gallows hill; a town in the background. The bell ring tolled for the souls of the poor sinners after an execution, was a custom in the 19th Century.

At this time, Klee lived in Munich and amongst his circle of friends were not only artists but in particular writers and poets and Reinhard Piper gave him books in exchange for drawings. Klee's source of inspiration might have been related to Christian Morgenstern's poetry The gallow songs of 1905, for which Klee had particular admiration (see W. Grohmann, Paul Klee, 1954, p. 54). Due to his lack of respect for lyrical tradition and his 'nonsense poetry', Morgenstern subsequently became an underdog of German literature with his experimental treatment of language and anarchic pleasure in nonsense, the combination of words, sillabels and sounds that are in no recognisable context, formed an entity of their own. One of the poems is titled 'Galgenberg' (gallows hill) and might have been a direct inspiration for this drawing.


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