- Museum number
- Object: Die Hölle (Hell)
Hell: Group of naked figures, one with head bowed. 1911
Lithograph, on Japan paper
- Production date
Height: 320 millimetres
Width: 270 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from Frances Carey and Antony Griffiths, 'The Print in Germany 1880-1933', BM 1984, no. 126
Beckmann's first prints are almost all lithographs; it was only in 1912 that he abruptly turned to drypoint, virtually abandoning lithography until 1919. Most of the early lithographs are transfers. This print is unusual in that it is drawn directly on the stone and the composition is extended up to the very edge, so that the irregular contour prints clearly. The only printmakers regularly using this device were the members of the Brücke, which suggests that Beckmann was looking at their work attentively even at this early date.
Although the title is the same as that of Beckmann's series of 1919 (Carey & Griffiths 1984 cat. no. 149), the connection is purely accidental as there is no link between them. 'Hell' here is purely a place of torment, and no allegorical or extended meaning is intended. The 1911 print is one of a large number of works on biblical themes made between 1908 and 1912; some are prints (such as the series of 'Six lithographs on the New Testament' of 1911), others are paintings (among them, a 'Crucifixion', a 'Resurrection' and 'Pentecost'). The fashion for such large-scale reworkings of biblical themes seems to have been introduced to German painting by Klinger, and was embraced by Corinth, who exercised a great influence on Beckmann's early style, as can clearly be seen in this print. Religious subjects surface again in Beckmann's work in the years 1916-18.
This and various other prints by Beckmann catalogued in Carey & Griffiths 1984 were purchased at the sale of the collection of Reinhard Piper held in Munich (Karl & Faber) on 29 June 1981; all have his collector's mark on the verso. Piper (1879-1953) founded his own publishing house in Munich in 1904. He first met Beckmann in 1912, when he bought his painting 'Samson and Delilah'. He also commissioned various works from him, and this marked the beginning of a collaboration which was second in importance only to that with J.B. Neumann (1982,0724.16). Piper bought all his prints directly from Beckmann and amassed a collection of great importance and quality. A number of his letters from his correspondence with Beckmann have been published ('Reinhard Piper, Briefwechsel mit Autoren and Künstlern 1903-53' edited by U. Buergel-Goodwin and W. Göbel, Munich 1979) and others survive in the Piper archives. See also the collected edition of his memoirs 'Mein Leben als Verleger', Munich 1964.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1984/5 Sept.-Jan., BM, 'The Print in Germany 1880-1933', no. 126
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number