- Museum number
- Object: Die Granate (The Grenade)
The grenade; soldiers, distorted figures, grenade exploding top r.; 3rd state of 5. 1916
- Production date
Height: 437 millimetres
Width: 288 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This print reflects Beckmann's service in the First World War as a volunteer medical orderly, specifically to the gas attacks at Ypres. Very few impressions of the quality of this print survive in German collections of Beckmann's work.
Not part of 'Gesichter'. For an analysis of the print, see Von Wiese, 'Max Beckmanns Zeicherisches Werk 1903-1923', Düsseldorf, 1978, pp.96-98 and Carey (ed.), 'The Apocalypse', BM exh cat, 1999, p.302, no.6. Exhibited in 'Collecting the Twentieth Century', BM 1991-1992.
Text from Frances Carey & Antony Griffiths, 'The Print in Germany 1880-1933', BM 1984, no.130a
This is the most remarkable print related to Beckmann's wartime experiences in the gas attacks at Ypres. He had considerable difficulty with the composition and five states of the plate are known. In the first three the plate is 435 mm high, and the states are distinguished by additional drypoint work. In the fourth state (illustrated in the catalogue 'Neuerwerbungen' 1982 of the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich, no. 82), the top 55 mm of the plate were cut off; a remark in the hand of Reinhard Piper in the margin of our impression of the third state, "Platte später oben abgeschnitten" refers to this. In the fifth state the standing soldier in the right foreground was taken out of the plate and the leg of the rushing man behind him extended to fill the gap. This final state was published in an edition of twenty. Beckmann's inscription on our impression of the second state, identifying it as an impression of the first state, is incorrect, as is the dating 1916 on the impression of the third state. Another impression of the third state (illustrated in the 1983 Berlin 'Die Hölle', no. 39) is annotated "1 Zustand", while a third (in Frankfurt, no.228 in the 1984 Munich/ Berlin catalogue) is annotated "2 Zustand", These inaccuracies might be explained by the fact that Beckmann added the inscriptions after March 1917, the date on which he deliberately changed the 'Latin' form of his signature (seen in 1981,0725.43) for a new form in so-called 'deutsche Schrift' (see von Wiese, 1978, p. 110 and note 293).
Von Wiese (1978, pp.96-8) gives a lengthy analysis of the composition of this print. He compares two drawings of 1914 by Ludwig Meidner, who greatly influenced Beckmann at this period; but a more unexpected source is in Bernard von Orley's 1521 'Job altar' which Beckmann must have seen in the museum at Brussels. This also shows figures falling out and away from he centre of the composition, driven by fear of a collapsing roof, as the figures here flee from the poison gas.
This and the following print did not form part of 'Gesichter', since they had been previously separately published by other publishers. Paul Cassirer, the publisher of this plate, was the greatest Berlin dealer in modern paintings of the day, and the driving force behind the Berlin Secession (cf. introduction to Carey & Griffiths 1984, p. 16). He seems to have published all the Beckmann plates that he handled in numbered editions of twenty; Neumann preferred fifty and presumably lower prices, while the edition size of the much obscurer Karl Lang is unknown. Neither Neumann, Lang nor Piper ever had editions numbered.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1984 May-Jul, London, Tate Gallery, 'Beckmann's Carnival'
1984/5 Sep-Jan, BM, 'The Print in Germany 1880-1933', no. 130a
1992 Mar-May, Manchester Art Gallery, 'The Expressionist Face...'
1999/2000 Dec-Apr, London, BM, 'The Apocalypse', no.6
2003 Feb-May, London, Tate Modern, 'Max Beckmann'
2008 May-Aug, Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, 'Traces du sacré'
2014-5 Sep-Feb, Newcastle, Hatton Gallery, 'Screaming Steel'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number