"Ruhe auf der Flucht I (Rest on the Flight I)", 1921
7.17 x 5.91 x 2.56 in
Signed on the right "E Barlach"
Foundry stamp "H. NOACK BERLIN"
Edition size of 20, unnumbered cast after 1939
Expertise Ernst Barlach Lizenzverwaltung, Ratzeburg
Cat. Rais.: Elisabeth Laur, Ernst Barlach, Das plastische Werk (Vol. II), Ernst Barlach Stiftung Güstrow, 2006,
Cat. Rais. No. 340, with ill. p. 177.
Über das Werk
- out on loan at Kunstmuseum Mülheim an der Ruhr -
In an exchange of correspondence over his play "The Foundling", Barlach stated that he doesn't (just) desire topicality for the beginning of the 1920s, "... but for the whole world at all times." (1) "Rest on the Flight" belongs to a series of works which exemplify perfectly his aspiration for timelessness. The proximity to the traditional motifs from the early modern era of religiously-oriented painting in Germany (for example, the 'Masters of the Danube School', Lucas Cranach, Joachim Patinir, etc.) becomes evident in the accompanying preliminary sketch, in which a mount has been placed next to the resting group. In its sculptural manifestation, the artist dispenses with the narrative attributes, and, in so doing, conjures an archaic situation with the simplest of means: The maquette merely features a concave figure with woman and child, who remain remote by virtue of the lack of eye contact with the viewer. However, closer inspection shows the model to have two feet on the left and the hemline of a robe - the seeds of the subsequent basic motif. In the further development of the clay model, Barlach adds a male figure on the left-hand side, who reveals a large blanket behind the group.
By omitting the animal which - according to legend - helped them on their flight to Egypt, the statement expands from its more limited Christian context into the universal; and the unequivocal religious allusions fade into the background. Essentially what is being portrayed is the care of a woman and child at a time of hardship and deprivation (the flight was undertaken on barefoot), the timeless symbol for the protection a family can provide. The framing of the two figures creates the impression of spatial depth, and leaves untouched the protective character of the cove. The raising of the cloth comports with an equally optically motivated and intellectually comprehensible "inclination". Thus this recuperative rest on a dangerous journey becomes compellingly and more palpably visible in this present small-format model than in the later wooden version.
(1) Briefe II, p. 603