Ralph Jentsch has confirmed the authenticity of this watercolor.
This watercolor is closely related to Strassenszene Berlin (see lot 141). Both works were painted in 1928 and depict the same three characters: a prosperous middle-aged couple, and an elderly gentlemen down on his luck. His "wages" must now come from the charity of those more fortunate than himself, from those of the upper class to which he once belonged. The present version probably represents an earlier conception of this theme. The little dog has been sketched in, but not painted, and the verdant foliage at upper left indicates that the time is probably late spring, whereas Strassenszene Berlin clearly takes place in autumn, which provides a sadder and more austere setting for the old man's unfortunate plight.
In late 1928, Grosz was fighting charges of blasphemy and sacrilege resulting from the publication of his portfolio Hintergrund, in which he had depicted Christ crucified wearing a gas mask. It was probably a sign of his growing stature and fame as an artist that his conviction was overturned on appeal the following year. It was the first time that he prevailed in court over the authorities who were keen on persecuting his works. The trial records state Grosz as testifying: "It is a long German tradition which I carry on. When the times are very troubled, when the foundations are shaken, the artist cannot stand aside, especially not the talented artist with his greater sensitivity. I think there is too much brutality and not enough love. Wherever one turns there are empty words, injustice and brutality. To tell the truth, these feelings are alive, they animate any man who is of a satirical turn of mind (quoted in U.M. Schneede, George Grosz: His Life and Work, New York, 1979, p. 114).