This painting is one of Franz’ most well-known and one of his later works. It was painted in 1913 and is well into his Expressionism period. The original image was an ink sketch on a postcard that was sent to Else Lasker-Schuler.
He then painted the final piece of work which is a very large (200x130cm) oil painting on canvas.
The image depicts 4 horses in a vertical row standing slightly behind one another so that it looks like they are forming a tower. They are all blue in colour which in history has been given two separate meanings.
In Franz’ colour symbolism model Blue represents manly power, and many Art Historians have analysed the painting as being a depiction of strength and unity within the creatures of the earth and the cosmos.
This theory is further backed up by the subtle stars and crescent shapes that are incorporated into the horse’s skin. The second theory is a much simpler one in that it was well known that Else Lasker-Shuler was a great fan of the colour blue and Franz may have chosen that colour in order to win her approval.
Although the post card survives in a collection of postcards that Franz painted for Else, the oil painting has been missing since 1945. It was housed in the Berlin National Gallery until it was removed by the Nazis and placed in the Degenerate Art Exhibition in Munich.
It was then removed under protest by veterans who were unhappy about it being included because Franz had in fact dies fighting for Germany in the war. It has not surfaced since its removal and its current location remains a mystery.