As he would be killed four years later while serving for the German army on the battlefields of France, this work is iconic both in its use of colour as well as its symbolism.
Unlike some of his other paintings such as Dead Sparrows and Horses Out to Pasture, Marc embraces the use of decidedly bold colours and shapes within The Sheep.
Although it could be argued that this reflects the influence of Impressionism upon his style, the fact of the matter is that his tendency to embrace more conflicting colours seems to have been a characteristic of his paintings later in life.
This is important to note, for Marc placed a great deal of importance upon the symbolism involved. Reds were seen are representing conflict and violence while blues and purples instead centred around personal spirituality.
Many have wondered whether the emerging turbulence in Europe leading up to the First World War influenced the work of Franz Marc. The Sheep does indeed seem to reinforce this observation.
The use of reds and blues alongside one another appears to signal conflict; each opposing one another. The fact that Marc employed thick and dark lines to denote the sheep lends the painting a rather harsh tone.
It is also interesting to note that the green hues are present mainly in the sheep that is standing. Could this be an allusion to the sanctity of life in comparison to the overtly violent tones associated with the nearby sleeping animal?
Additionally, it almost appears as if a tear is falling from the eye of the standing sheep. Might this further represent his view of humanity approaching the brink of a great conflict? While we may never know the answers to such questions, The Sheep is nonetheless an iconic work from this great talent.