(Barmen, Elberfeld, Wüppertal, and later probably Munich): 1919-1925.
Hardcover. Oblong 16mo. Measuring 10" x "6½". 67 leaves. Early 20th Century marbled sketchbook stamped “Skizzen,” and retaining the original pencil that accompanies the sketchbook. Front interior cover inscribed, “Gefünden un Konfisziert als Beweismittel gegen 'H.P.' (unbekannt), Dachau /München 7 Juni 1939. E...” ("Found and confiscated as evidence against H.P. (unknown) Dachau-Munich June 7, 1939. E. [illegible signature]" and stamped with SS. Division ink stamp with Nazi insignia of soaring eagle clutching swastika with legible letters “Waff-Gren-Div,” possibly the Waffen-Grenadier SS. Division, the elite police force of the SS. Army.
Extraordinary sketchbook filled with drawings dating to the beginning of the Weimar Republic and continuing throughout the early dawn of Nazi-era Germany. This sketchbook appears to be the work of one artist over six years; a few times the drawings are signed “H.P.” or “H. Philipp.” The drawings capture scenes of everyday life and culture from the beginning of the Weimar Republic to the onset of early Nazi-state Germany. Filled with full-page drawings in pencil, some tinted with watercolors and washes, charcoal, and ink on paper. Most illustrations are dated from 1919 through to 1924 and 25, some with German captions.
The artist of these extraordinary sketches is untraced, but he used this sketchbook extensively over a six year period. The purported “H. Philipp’s” enthusiastic drawings, caricatures, satirical art, sketches of people, street scenes, landscapes, and allegorical musings are startling in quality and idea. The artist records increased military presence in post-imperialist Germany, just after the chaos of the German or November Revolution of 1918-1919, and through depictions of “Rote Garde” or Red Guard officers which were formed to protect the revolution, their standard issue vehicles, Swastika-emblazoned flags, camp scenes, and other earlier imagined historical battles and weapons, one a striking full-page colorful Caesar outfitted in Roman armor. There is a page for portraits of “Feindliche Truppen” (Enemy Troops) and the artist draws profiles of soldiers including Italians, Turks, and Romanians in characteristic gear. Interspersed are some sensitively drawn landscapes, and allegories with nude studies, dancers, bathers, one picture a striking Adam and Eve scene in the Garden of Eden, and others like a double-page scene of Jupiter and Venus from Virgil’s classic epic the Aeneid. The artist also had an interest in opera, there is a whimsical and strange bird-costumed illustration for Braunfels opera *Die Vögel*, a conductor leading musicians, and a portrait head labeled “Willy Appel” for Wili Apel (1893-1988), the German-American musicologist. Some sketches are dated with Christian holidays: Faschingsmontag, Ostern, and Karfreitag.
This sketcher exhibits a strong inclination to propagate racist caricatures in depicting gross and satirical portrait heads of European Jewry. Through exaggerated profiles and dress, the artist exhibits a viewpoint and displayed a knack for capturing and filtering the lives around him. One illustration labeled “Judenkruke,” dated April 17, 1924 in Elberfeld, depicts an octopus-like monster strangling four people, including a soldier, a clergyman, and a farmer with a rake. The illustrations proliferated alongside a climax of anti-Semitic fervor in Europe and are an all-too-believable example of the social mores present at the time. Throughout, the artist employs techniques which embolden the scenes through contrasting “blocky” colors, thick charcoal lines, and silhouettes. Art from the Weimar Republic is known to be innovative and expressive amidst a society ravaged by The Great War, and was home to such notable artists as George Grosz and Otto Dix. With German captions and dates on nearly each page, this sketchbook is an unique and elaborated specimen of folk art and cultural evidence from early Weimar Republic Germany, dating to a time of extreme highs and lows between the two World Wars.
Notably, the artist uses the characteristic wartime swastika on some dress and regalia. The swastika officially became the emblem for the Nazi Party on August 7, 1920, at the Salzburg Congress. Previously, the swastika was used to express nationalism and pride and would have been a commonplace and less polarizing symbol in German society before 1919. Nevertheless, this sketchbook provides early examples of the ill-fated symbol in contemporary drawing, overlapping with the exact time of official Nazi usage. In 1939, Europe was on the brink of World War II and the confiscation of this artifact in the Dachau-Munich area speaks to an environment wrought with tension and confusion.