Castle Colditz
  • Richard Müller
  • Tschirnitz / Bohemia 1874 -1954 Dresden
  • Castle Colditz, 1938
  • Carpenter´s pencil, partly smeared, on paper
  • signed and dated: Rich. Müller 1938
    inscribed with pencil on the verso: Schloß Colditz i. S.
  • cat. rais. Z 1938.11
  • 285 × 249 mm

With this view of the Saxon Castle Colditz, an imposing Renaissance building between Hartha and Grimma, Richard Müller joined the ranks of the many well-known artists who had paid tribute to this picturesque theme since the 19th century. At the end of the 15th century, the Saxon Electors took over the complex – which had been founded as an imperial castle –, generously expanding it as a hunting lodge and, later, widow‘s residence. In 1787, however, the House of Wettin abandoned the complex in favor of the new Hubertusburg Castle in Wermsdorf, and sold off the entire estate inventory. Since then, this fortified compound, with its many groups of buildings, continually served as an asylum and prison, until the Nazis began using it as a camp for protective custody and for the Reich Labor Service when they came into power in 1933. The later-notorious war camp Oflag IVC was set up here in October 1939 as a special camp for foreign officers. When this drawing was created, however, there were no detainees on the castle grounds, and, as evidenced by the visitors in the foreground and in the first courtyard, the complex was apparently accessible to the public. But the narrative detail of the figures in this image is only a minor example of the changes that crept into Müller‘s style in the late 1930s, when the artist increasingly replaced the surreal, his former trademark, with a realism that seems almost staged, presenting the viewer with something almost expected. In this view, the artist gazes through the Gothic main entrance to the rear of the castle, the so-called ‚whispering arch,‘ into an oval courtyard, around which various Renaissance buildings are still grouped today.