The Archer
  • Richard Müller
  • Tschirnitz / Bohemia 1874 -1954 Dresden
  • The Archer, 1906
  • Pencil and black chalk on vellum,
  • mongramed and dated lower left: R. M./ 06-
  • 347 × 602 mm
Carl Leonhardt, Zwickau (1921)
private collection Northern Germany
Franz H. Meißner: Das Werk von Richard Müller,
Dresden 1921, no. 42, ill. p. 46

At the early age of fourteen, Richard Müller passed the entrance exam of the painting school at the royal Saxon porcelain works in Meissen, and two years later he was admitted to the academy in Dresden. In 1894, at the age of twenty, he was the youngest artist to take part in an exhibition of the Dresden Secession. There, Richard Müller made the acquaintance of Max Klinger (1857-1920), whose work would have a lasting influence upon him.

The bestowal of the Great Rome Prize in 1897 was the first in an impressive series of honours that would pay tribute to Müller’s life’s work. In 1900, he accepted a professorship at the Dresden academy, which he held until forced to resign by the Nazis in 1935. Among his many students were such subsequent luminaries as George Grosz, Bernhard Kretschmar, Richard Scheibe, and Otto Dix.

With increasing age, graphic works played an increasing role in Richard Müller’s oeuvre, mostly made in his studio in Dresden-Loschwitz or on brief journeys through the Saxon countryside.

In his works, Müller juxtaposed the Neue Sachlichkeit (“new objectivity”) with his own eccentric and fantastically alienated brand of surrealism, going beyond that dared by any other artist of his age. Alongside such exotic animals as the coati, the marabou, and the armadillo, the chameleon became a favourite subject in these provocative images.

The composition shown here was preceded by three different versions beginning in 1904, which each, instead of the chameleon, showed two unfortunate archers in a battle to the death or a stranglehold. In 1918, Müller reproduced our drawing in the famous engraving, Archer IV1.

  1. Franz H. Meißner: Das Werk von Richard Müller,
    Dresden 1921, plates 33/34, pp. 35/36