Vente: 540 / Evening Sale 09 juin 2023 à Munich Lot 8


Franz Marc
Grünes Pferd, 1912.
€ 600,000 / $ 648,000
€ 2,468,000 / $ 2,665,440

( frais d'adjudication compris)
Grünes Pferd. 1912.
Hoberg/Jansen 203. Lower right signed "Fz Marc". On off-white laid paper. 22.5 x 35.5 cm (8.8 x 13.9 in), size of sheet.
The preliminary study "Grünes Pferd in Landschaft", which Marc made in preparation of the composition of the present work "Grünes Pferd", has been in possession of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York since 1949 (inv. no. 49.1215, cf. Hoberg/Jansen, vol. III, p. 212, no. XXV 1912, with illu.). This study originally used to be page 24 in Marc's sketchbook no. XXV (1912). Maria Marc, the artist's widow, took the sketchbook from his estate apart and sold the sheets individually. In the study, executed in watercolors, gouache and pencil, Marc had already determined the composition's colors and roughly also the landscape's structure. [JS].
• Marc's blue, green or yellow horses are icons of Expressionism.
• Museum quality from the heyday of the "Blauer Reiter".
• Marc par excellence: Paradisiacal harmony of plants and animals in liberated expressionist colors.
• An exhibition history that goes back to 1917, when it was on loan at the Kestner-Gesellschaft from the Garvens-Garvensburg Collection, until, among others, the grand retrospective "Franz Marc. Pferde" at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in 2000.
• The preliminary study for the present work is at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

We are grateful to Dr. Cathrin Klingsöhr-Leroy, Franz Marc Museum, Kochel am See, for her kind support in cataloging this lot.

PROVENANCE: Herbert von Garvens-Garvensburg, Hanover (at the latest 1917 until at least 1921).
Dr. Ludwig Grunebaum, New York (1936 at the latest).
Dr. Henry Grunebaum, Cambridge (obtained from the above around 1961).
Private collection Lugano (around 1970).
Galerie Thomas, Munich (with the label on the reverse).
Private collection (presumably acquired from the above, until 2009).
Galerie Thomas, Munich.
Private collection (acquired from the above in 2009).

EXHIBITION: Neue Münchner Kunst. Gemälde, Graphik, Kestner-Gesellschaft e. V., XII. Sonderausstellung, Hanover December 1, 1917 - January 4, 1918, no. 94.
Aquarelle Moderner Künstler. Gemälde von Felixmüller, Kestner-Gesellschaft e. V., Hanover, August 28 - September 25, 1921, no. 114.
Franz Marc. Aquarelle - Zeichnungen - Grafik, Galerie Neue Kunst Fides, Dresden, October 9 - November 18, 1927, no. 87.
Twentieth-Century Germanic Art from Private Collections in Greater Boston, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 23 - May 1, 1961, no. number.
Franz Marc. Pferde, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, May 27 - September 10, 2000, cat. no. 63 (with illu.).
Meisterwerke IV. Werke des deutschen Expressionismus, Galerie Thomas, Munich 2008, pp. 114-123 (with illu.)
Franz Marc Museum, Kochel am See (June 2009 - December 2015, as permanent loan from a private collection).
Franz Marc, Galerie Thomas, München, November 18, 2014 - February 5, 2015.

LITERATURE: Paul Erich Küppers, Sammlung Herbert von Garvens-Garvensburg in Hannover, in: Das Kunstblatt 1917, issue 9, pp. 260-270, here p. 268.
Alois J Schardt, Franz Marc, Berlin 1936, catalogue raisonné II 1912/no.15.
Klaus Lankheit, Franz Marc. Katalog der Werke, Cologne 1970, cat. no. 440 (with black-and-white illu.).
Katrin Vester, Herbert von Garvens-Garvensburg: Sammler und Galerist im Hannover, Master's thesis at the Hamburg University 1989, addendum A I, p. 6.
Annegret Hoberg / Isabelle Jansen, Franz Marc. Catalogue raisonné vol. II, Aquarelle, Gouachen, Zeichnungen, Postkarten, Munich 2004, cat. no. 203 (with illu.).
Cf. for the preliminary drawing: Annegret Hoberg / Isabelle Jansen, Franz Marc. Catalogue raisonné vol. III, Skizzenbücher und Druckgraphik, Munich 2011, sketchbook XXV, 1912, p. 212 (illu. of the preliminary color drawing in the 1912 sketchbook).
Lower Saxon State Archive, section Hanover, dep. 100 (Kestner-Gesellschaft), no. 16.

"We came up with the 'Blauer Reiter' at the coffetable at the garden shed in Sindelsdorf. We both liked blue. Franz Marc liked the horses, while I liked the horsemen. That's how the name came about of its own volition.“
Wassily Kandinsky about the naming of the "Blauer Reiter".

"Apart from many wonderful woodcuts, you can also find Marc's lovely and characteristic 'Watercolor with the Green Horse’.“
Paul Erich Küppers on the Garvens-Garvensburg Collection in: Das Kunstblatt, 1917.

Marc's colorful horses - Icons of Expressionism
Franz Marc is a myth: His tragic biography, his extraordinary artistic talent, his visionary spirit and his premature death in World War I. In 1916 Marc fell near Verdun at the age of only 36, but his outstanding relevance for German Expressionism, especially for the "Blauer Reiter", had already been established by this point. The motif of the blue horse, followed by green or yellow ones, is considered the most characteristic and probably also the most progressive in Franz Marc's art. It is particularly exemplary of Marc audaciously overcoming the local color and attaining a color of expression, which can be assigned to an object entirely freely and is solely dependent on the artistic will. This progressive step would eventually earn Marc a permanent place in modern art history. The most well-known implementations of this theme are, on the one hand, his legendary painting "The Tower of the Blue Horses" from 1913, which is considered lost to this day, and "Blue Horse I" from 1911, which is part of the collection of the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich. The painting "The Large Blue Horses" (1911), which Marc showed at the Munich Galerie Thannhauser in the first exhibition of the "Blauer Reiter" from December 1911 to January 1912, and which today is part of the collection of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis/ USA, as well as the "Little Blue Horses" (1911) and the "Little Yellow Horses" (1912) at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, belong to these highlights of Expressionism.

Marc's "Green Horse" and the art theory of the "Blauer Reiter"
In the "Large Blue Horses" (1911) in Minneapolis and the "Little Blue Horses" (1911) in Stuttgart, the movement motif of the horse scratching its leg, which gives the animal an eccentric and at the same time self-contained form, is particularly characteristic. In 1912 Marc took up the famous motif, which emanates both calm and movement, in the present work "Green Horse" and finally in "Little Yellow Horses" (1913, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart). In contrast to the other works, Marc depicts this motif in the present composition in isolation from the rest of the group of horses, and allows significantly more space for the almost abstract landscape surroundings. The background no longer just shows luminous mountain peaks, but instead a prism-like broken, crystalline landscape impression spreading out in front of us that enters into a cosmic symbiosis with the green horse through the green branches in the foreground. Stylistically, there is a certain similarity to the contemporary works of Heinrich Campendonk and Robert Delaunay, whose works were also part of the first "Blauer Reiter" exhibition. Marc did not render a realistic account of the landscape, instead he used landscape, animals and color to express a complex spiritual feeling in form of an artistic composition. This testifies to the closeness of the "Blauer Reiter" painting to music, which Kandinsky aptly described in his work "Concerning the Spiritual in Art", published in December 1911 and reissued twice the year the "Green Horse" was made, with the following words: "A painter who finds no satisfaction in mere representation, however artistic, in his longing to express his inner life, cannot but envy the ease with which music, the most non-material of the arts today, achieves this end. He naturally seeks to apply the methods of music to his own art. […] And from this results that modern desire for rhythm in painting, for mathematical, abstract construction, for repeated notes of color, for setting color in motion, etc." (W. Kandinsky: Concerning the Spiritual in Art, transl.). In "Green Horse" one can see this colorful rhythm, the repetition of the green, which carries the composition as a color motif that Marc uses to give expression to his "inner world", his spiritual-emotional sensation. Apart from the branches in the foreground, Marc has dissolved the "landscape" into an almost abstract color tone, which receives its individual character through the rhythm of the green, the contrast between black and white and the rhythmic accents of blue and red. But what is the character of the green to which Franz Marc gives the role of a colored protagonist in "Green Horse"? Green is the symbiosis of blue and yellow, it brings the eccentric yellow and the concentric blue into balance: "The blue by its contrary movement acts as a brake on the yellow, and is hindered in its own movement, till the two together become stationary, and the result is green. […] yellow and blue are hidden in the green as paralysed forces that can become active forces again. Green bears a lively potential." (W. Kandinsky, transl.).
Marc's mystical, enchanting animal depictions - the endangered ideal of absolute pureness and harmony
In 1911, the year the “Blauer Reiter” was founded and after impressionist beginnings, Marc took a big leap towards Expressiononism and an expressive color that was liberated from the object. In the following years of the "Blauer Reiter", which was eventually dissolved in 1914 when World War I broke out, Marc was at the peak of his artistic creation. From 1911 to 1914, he created his best-known works, among them "The Tiger" (1912, Lenbachhaus Munich), "The Foxes" (1913, formerly Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf), "The Tower of the Blue Horses" (1913, lost), “Fate of the Animals “(1913, Kunstmuseum Basel) and "Fighting Forms" (1914, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich). In 1913, Marc played a major role in the important expressionist exhibition at Herwarth Walden's ‘Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon’ in Berlin, for which he submitted a total of seven paintings, including the famous work "Fate of the Animals" (1913), which shows, among other things, two fleeing green horses and a blue deer in a prism-like forest scenery. In August, shortly after the outbreak of war, Marc volunteered for service. Like many other artists and intellectuals of the time, he initially expected the war to have a cleansing and healing effect on “a sick Europe”. However, when Marc received a postcard during the war with a picture of his "Fate of the Animals", he wrote to his wife Maria on March 17, 1915: "I was completely moved and excited at this sight. It foreboded this war, horrible and moving; I can hardly imagine that I painted that!" (Susanna Partsch: Marc, p. 76; in: Klaus Lankheit and Uwe Steffen (ed.): Franz Marc: Briefe aus dem Feld. Munich 1986, p. 50).

For Marc, the animal world, which exists in harmonious symbiosis with the plant world, symbolizes an ideal form of pureness, freedom and nativeness. His expressionist depictions of animals from the pre-war period are therefore always read as an expression of his mystical, transfigured search for an ideal of a peaceful unity and absolute harmony, which Marc had already perceived as endangered in "Fate of the Animals" (1913) in an almost visionary way. The fragileness and the subtly resonant imminence in Marc’s depictions of a perfect harmony among animals fascinates time and again. The composition "Green Horse" is also characterized by the tension between an ostensible peace and the activity inherent in the color green, according to Kandinsky, from the two paralyzed forces yellow and blue. Calmly licking its leg, the "Green Horse" seems to be ready to flee any moment, can immediately go from quiescent to agile, thus Marc brought color and form into a particularly expressive unity in "Green Horse". With his depictions of animals, of which most are owned by renowned museums around the world, Franz Marc left us highly expressive and atmospheric images. Due to their emotional character, they are of a lasting relevance and still hold a highly complex structure of possible associations for today's viewers.

In 1916, Franz Marc was released from military service as he had been declared one of the most important German artists. However, on his last day of service on March 4, 1916, he was killed by shrapnel on a messenger ride not far from Verdun. The same year two memorial exhibitions took place in Munich and Berlin. In 1920, his wife Maria Marc published his war letters and the field sketchbook through Paul Cassirer’s publishing house. [JS]

Franz Marc
Grünes Pferd, 1912.
€ 600,000 / $ 648,000
€ 2,468,000 / $ 2,665,440

( frais d'adjudication compris)