Prints from the estate of Franz Marc

published on August 2, 2023

Drawing of a horse and a hedgehog
Franz Marc, Horse and Hedgehog (1913), woodcut, inv. GR 2490

In 1955, four Darmstadt companies (DeTeWe, Schenck, Storm, and Odenwälder Hartstein) each donated a print by Franz Marc to the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt’s graphic art collection. The prints—"Horse and Hedgehog”, “The Bull”, “Kangaroos”, and “Wild Little Horse”—considerably enriched the collection’s inventory. As a result of the National Socialist campaign of confiscation in 1937, the collection’s Expressionist prints were forever lost. The museum’s director, Erich Wiese, had obviously started an appeal for donations of Expressionist graphic prints to the museum in order to plug the massive gaps in the collection.

As the prints were donations from companies, the inventory register did not specify from which galleries they had been acquired. However, on two of the prints there is a handwritten comment by Maria Marc to the effect that they originate from Franz Marc’s estate. Marc had been killed in 1916 in the First World War, and his widow Maria (1876–1955) had hidden away her late husband’s artistic and literary inheritance, thus preserving it from destruction by the National Socialists.

After 1945, she strove to interest art connoisseurs in Expressionist works, a genre that had been proscribed as “degenerate art”. She commissioned the Munich gallery owner Otto Stangl to sell objects from her husband’s estate, and in her will she appointed him administrator of Marc’s artistic inheritance. In the archive of the Galerie Stengl, today preserved in the Central Archive for German and International Art Market Research in Cologne (ZADIK), is a list that documents a part of these sales. On this list are four items from the year 1955 referring to graphic art by Franz Marc, of which three can with certainty be identified as the prints now in Darmstadt.

Unfortunately, the list includes neither the technique nor the subject of the fourth print, “Wild Little Horse”, so that in this case the identity of the work cannot be completely verified. But on the reverse of the print a handwritten note records its origin from Marc’s estate, so that the provenance of all four graphic works may be considered above suspicion.

Udo Felbinger

Drawing of a bull.
Franz Marc, The Bull (1912), woodcut, inv. GR 2491

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