Documented in Drawing , Painting & Lithograph

The Camel Caravan in the Mountains

Franz Heckendorf (Berlin 1888 – Munich 1962). Camel Caravan in the High Mountains. Before the rugged sparse mountain landscape towering like a bird’s eye view the caravan passes to the right at the lower edge of the image. From the top right corner the sunbeams burn down. Chalk lithograph. Inscribed in the stone below right: F. Heckendorf. / (19)18 and additionally in his own hand in pencil at the edge of the subject below center: F. Heckendorf. 11⅝ × 16¾ in (29.5 × 42.5 cm).


Thieme-Becker XVI (1923), 211 f.; Vollmer II (1955), 400; AKL LXX (2011), 513 f.

Kestner Museum Hanover, Kataloge der Sonderausstellungen XVII, 1918; Joachim Kirchner, Franz Heckendorf, 1919, & Neue Bilder von Franz Heckendorf in Biermann (ed.), Jahrbuch der jungen Kunst 1924, 190 ff.; Cicerone, vols. 1912-1928, here in particular XVI (1924), 802 f.; Feuer II, 1 (1920/21), 195-202; Franz Heckendorf, catalog of the special exhibition at Galerie Hagemeier, Frankfurt/Main, 1985; Symphonie in Farbe, exhibition catalog of Kunstfreunde Bergstraße, 1991; Rainer Zimmermann, Expressiver Realismus / Malerei der verschollenen Generation, 1994, 384.

Gisela Hauss (ed.), Migration, Flucht und Exil im Spiegel der Sozialen Arbeit, 2010, 192 f.; Winfried Meyer, NS-Justiz gegen Judenhelfer: „Vernichtung durch Arbeit“ statt Todesstrafe. Das Urteil des Sondergerichts Freiburg i. Br. gegen den Berliner Maler Franz Heckendorf und seine Vollstreckung. In: Wolfgang Benz (ed.), Jahrbuch für Antisemitismusforschung XIX, 2010, 331-362.

On strong Van Gelder Zonen laid paper with secondary mark coat of arms deckle edged top & bottom. – Verso isolated (pinhead) small brown or foxing spots of which on the front, however, only three are perceivable in the 3-4 cm wide white paper margin only.

Heckendorf, Camel Caravan

In the general composition, but not in all details, present lithograph follows both the slightly smaller pencil drawing Caravan in the Mountains (ill. cat. Hagemeier, p. 15; 10⅝ × 14⅛ in [27 × 36 cm]) from 1917 and the painting cited by Vollmer (ill. Kirchner) and in such a manner documents

the for Heckendorf apparently important experience

of the encounter with a cameleer caravan:

“ Pupil of the instruction class of the Berlin Museum of Applied Arts and the Academy, but essentially autodidact (just as the contemporaries Heckel & E. L. Kirchner and like these starting from impressionism). One of the most talented exponents of the young generation of German artists … The most mature Heckendorf has created so far are his landscapes … especially, however, the landscapes he had the occasion to paint during World War (I) as combat pilot at the eastern front, on the Balkans, by the Bosphorus and by the Tigris: …

Caravan in the High Mountains

… Coping with all techniques and an exceedingly easily producing talent … H. applies himself besides oil painting to pastel, watercolor, and lithography … ”

(Hans Vollmer in Thieme-Becker).

Franz Heckendorf, Caravan in the High Mountains
Caravan in the High Mountains (1917). Comp. ill. from J. Kirchner, Franz Heckendorf

At the beginning of 1916 the British Empire had raised the Imperial Camel Corps which played an important part in the Sinai and Palestine campaigns against the Ottomans and in parts also participated in the so-called Arab Revolt. Possible that here Heckendorf digested an encounter as combat pilot:

“ Of graphic works Heckendorf published in 1917 an album with 12 lithographs. The motifs are taken from the life in the East as the artist had become acquainted with during the campaign … With a brisk activity in the field of lithography Heckendorf by the way would not only serve his own name, but the whole younger art movement ”

(Joachim Kirchner, 1919, op. cit., p. 13).

And Alessandra Cacace 2011 in Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon:

“ During the years of war the graphical techniques (above all pencil and ink drawings; lithographs) gain in importance. ”

Heckendorf himself in the autobiographic piece Mein Leben (My Life) for Kirchner’s monograph:

“ The caprice of the war brought me as flier to the Balkans and the East, that wonderland of whose tremendous abundance of light and fabulous colorfulness my fantasy had already dreamt since long. Serbia, Macedonia, Turkey, Anatolia lured with an immeasurable plethora of splendid motifs which to some extent were used artistically, too. For … luckily I was still left with enough time for painting and drawing ”

(op. cit., p. 16).

Besides however – adopting Kirchner almost verbatim – Rainer Zimmermann in the catalog of Kunstfreunde Bergstraße:

“ The process of spiritualization, which the artist creates by the color but also by rhythm and line, is to be perceived easiest in his landscapes ”

(op. cit., page 11; spacing not in the original).

Unabated through dark years during which he was ostracized like his kind, at the very beginning imposed with an exhibition ban, followed 1937 by removal/sale/burning of the works in the National Gallery and in Berlin public property, 1940 the expulsion from the Reichskammer der Bildenden Künste and 1943 finally by even completely different, profoundly personal hardship, ultimately grown from the zodiac sign of the Scorpio Heckendorf:

“ A further rescuing network of refugee smuggling emerged around the art painter and proprietor of a gallery, Franz Heckendorf … in Berlin. He had many Jewish acquaintances to whom he again and again suggested to leave Germany … False identity cards were made and escape routes (to Switzerland) prepared … (and tested) in the disguise of ramblers … The first refugees were Kurt and Hilda Schüler from Berlin. Approximately further 20 to 80 persons followed … In February 1943 this refugee smuggling network was busted after Heckendorf … (was presumably set up). Four of the refugee smugglers were sentenced to penal servitude and high fines by the Special Court Freiburg (Breisgau) … ”

(Hauss, op. cit.).

With 10 years Heckendorf was sentenced the maximum penalty, by which an obviously sympathetic court, shifting actual responsibility to foreign Jewish wire-pullers, thwarted the death penalty requested by the public prosecutor. Just as then in the course of the jail stations good people, not self-proclaimed “do-gooders”, helped when the physical strength were on the verge of ruin. Right to the end ultimately even concentration camp Mauthausen.

The way back was paved by professorship at the Vienna Academy and teaching in Salzburg. From 1950 then settled down in Munich. And leaving behind an œuvre in which, even though not yet again ex cathedra, the connoisseur is promised what had been certainty 90 years before:

“ The leading role (Heckendorf) took already at the beginning of his career among the same-aged colleagues remained with him, and it supposedly means a general acknowledgement of his skill when this year he was represented

along with the most eminent names of the world of German painters

with several works on the international art exhibition in Rome ”

(Joachim Kirchner in Jahrbuch der jungen Kunst 1924, page 190).

Offer no. 29,092 / EUR  2300. / export price EUR  2185. (c. US$ 2641.) + shipping