A prancing Pony
  • Franz Marc
  • Munich 1880 - 1916 near Verdun
  • A prancing Pony, 1912
  • Watercolour over pen and black ink, on a handwritten postcard
  • signed there with pen and black ink: F. Marc
  • 90 × 140 mm
Sale 34 Roman Norbert Ketterer, Stuttgart, November 21st, 1959, lot 525, ill. plate 72
Private collection, Switzerland
Alois J. Schardt: Franz Marc, Berlin 1936, no. IV-1912-2, p. 171
Klaus Lankheit: Franz Marc - Katalog der Werke, Cologne 1970, no. 722 (Little fabulous creature II), ill. p. 229
A. Hoberg, I. Jansen: Franz Marc - Werkverzeichnis, Munich 2004, vol. II, no. 275, ill. p. 273
Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover 1936: Franz Marc Gedächtnisausstellung, cat. no. 74

Franz Marc’s postcards are considered the most poetic of all the artist’s works – as the essence of his mature art in miniature in “wonderfully bright colors” (Lasker-Schüler), in which one may find many of the designs for his late paintings.

During the winter of 1912, Marc sent the first of these cards to the poet Else Lasker-Schüler (1869-1945) in Berlin. This correspondence developed into 28 painted postcards, sent until his untimely death; they were purchased as a bundle by the National Gallery in Berlin as early as 1919. By 1914, Franz Marc created such gems for other artist friends like Wassily Kandinsky (Fig. 1), Alfred Kubin, Erich Heckel, and the couple Paul and Lily Klee.

Likewise in 1912, Marc wrote this postcard in Sindelsdorf, in Bavaria, to a German friend who happened to be visiting Paris. Unfortunately, the previous owner scratched out the name and address, such that we can only read that the recipient’s hotel was located in the 9th District. Although Klaus Lankheit described the animal as a mythical creature in his catalogue raisonné of 1970, it appears clearly identifiable as a pony that stretches his head proudly in the air. With a thick mane and long tail, he struts before a hilly landscape in the background. Marc washed this study in bright watercolour tones – the pony blue and the landscape red, blue, and green. The artist thus presents, in the smallest format, an equally valuable depiction of his favourite theme, the horse, before a typically abstract landscape in alienated colours.

The Frau Epstein mentioned on the postcard refers to the Russian painter Elisabeth Iwanowna Epstein, née Hefter (18791956). In 1896, she left Moscow to pursue studies in Munich, where she soon connected with the circle of friends around Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej Jawlensky, and Marianne von Werefkin. Here, Thomas Mann discovered in Elisabeth Epstein the ideal prototype for his intelligent painter in Tonio Kröger, which appeared in 1902.

After 1906, Epstein lived and worked in Paris, but she remained in contact with her friends in Germany. In Sèvres, for instance, she met up with Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter; she had met the latter in Jawlensky’s painting school in Munich (Fig. 2).

Soon, Elisabeth Epstein became the most important intermediary between the painters of the Blaue Reiter and the French art scene. Franz Marc thus wrote an enthusiastic letter to Kandinsky in October 1912 about his visit in Paris and Epstein’s retreat in Montmorency.

We are grateful to Dr. Annegret Hoberg for her assistance in cataloguing this drawing.

August Macke August Macke
photography, ca. 1903
Franz Marc Franz Marc
photography, spring 1914