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This iconic painting of Red Deers was created by Franz Marc as an oil on canvas in 1912
Marc was well-known for his love of animals and throughout his career he experimented with the symbolic use of colour, various techniques and styles.
This particular painting shows the simplified, abstracted and rhythmical portrayal of the Red Deer. Marc's inspiration evolved from hours and hours of observing animal behaviour in their natural surroundings.
He created numerous sketches of animals and was an expert in animal anatomy. This enabled him to play with their outlines and integrate them into the landscape of his paintings.
Often his use of colour was symbolic and in this painting he uses a carefully selective palette of descriptive colours. He successfully captures the graceful curve of the deer's necks, a fluidity in their shapes which gives the viewer the feeling of their playful yet shy natures.
By flattening their ears and turning their heads, the deer appear highly attuned to their surroundings.
When Marc lived in Sindelsdorf, a small village near in Bavarian, he owned two deer and made numerous sketches of them. His fellow artist Kandinsky wrote "Marc showed me his deer, which he adored as if they were his own children".
Artist Paul Klee commented that Marc "has a human affection for animals. He raises them to his own level." Indeed, in this painting Marc seems to have achieved his aim of imagining himself within the animal, seeing the world through the animal's eyes. For him, these beautiful, innocent brown deer were symbols of paradise.
Marc's career was cut short and many of his later paintings seemed to show his thoughts about the approaching war. Marc was killed on the battlefield of Verdun in 1916. He had believed that the war might "cleanse" mankind.
Red Deers is a beautiful painting full of the innocence and beauty that Franz Marc saw in the animals he loved so much.