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Saint Christopher

Date: 1937
Material: colored pencil drawing with watercolor
Dimensions: 48 x 32 cm

Fritz Griebel belongs to a generation of artists whose career was abruptly interrupted by two world wars. Based on Gertrude Stein and Hannah Arendt coined term of "Lost Generation" in the literature for American and French writers of the 1920s established the art historian, journalist and collector Rainer Zimmermann (1920-2009) the term "Lost Generation" for artists and artists from the German-speaking countries, who had been born around the turn of the century and their studies fell in the postwar turmoil and distress of the First world war. Goods already many of these artists to address the public during the Weimar Republic through exhibitions, they were harassed during the Nazi period with exhibition prohibitions or the confiscation of their works in museums during the propagandistic "degenerate art".

The tragedy of this "lost generation" is also the fact that it is difficult (again) received public recognition by 1945th Most figurative working were artists on the West German art market, the preferred almost abstract art, not a foothold.

The short period from 1920 to 1940 has been a very creative phase for Fritz Griebel: The paper cutting, drawing and painting, he developed his own distinctive style and is in demand as a portrait painter. In 1932 he received the prestigious Dürer Prize.

Fritz Griebel was drafted together with his also very artistically talented brother Paul shortly before the end of the First World War in Nuremberg as a recruit of the infantry; his brother died in 1918. This early loss coined Griebel pacifist. In 1940 he was drafted for five years. He was in Boxtel (Netherlands), Bamberg and stationed in Streitberg (Saxon Switzerland) and had to work for the air protection and the construction crew.

While the dictator of the Nazis in 1940 an already planned exhibition "political reasons" canceled. It is very likely that the cancellation of Griebel's defense of his fellow artists Eitel Klein (1906-1990) results: Klein had exhibition prohibition for the exhibition showed the creators from among the State School of Applied Arts, the works of former students of the School of Applied Arts in 1939, was canceled at short notice: Griebel had used with the most powerful cultural Represented Nazi Nuremberg, Emil Stahl, head of the Municipal Art Collections and Hermann Gradl, director of the school of applied Arts levied by Hitler to the Academy of Fine Arts, for the images Klein. A non-hazardous act of courage.

Eitel Klein wrote in his diary: "Griebel (also winter) stood up for me against Gradl and steel. It must be hergegangen violently. This vouch was delighted and I am Gr. very grateful, you will find yet so rare, even among friends, that one for the other real commitment at the risk that he himself sits down in the nettles. [...]. "

Fritz Griebel kept himself and his family later with drawings, silhouettes and small commercial work over water. In 1937 he submitted a design for the design of the officers' mess of the new barracks in Schweinfurt, he got without comment a year later. The sketch shows the St. Christopher, at whose feet a small stylized tank stands with four schematic soldiers before.

Master the Pearl of Brabant (Dieric Bouts?): Saint Christopher (right part of the wing-aged The Pearl of Brabant.

Saint Christopher (Greek. "Christ bearer") is probably historical martyr figure of the 3rd or 4th century Asia Minor. He is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and is among the saints usually shown. To his life is shrouded in various legends:

So continues the Eastern Church legend from the 8th century to the legend of the martyr Bartholomew, the gelagte together with Andreas to the Parthians to evangelize them. You was an assistant to the side, equipped with powerful forces cynocephaly (dog-headed), the first Reprobus (lat. "The Curse") was called. he put through baptism from his animal nature, received human characteristics and language, and the name Christianus. His walking stick produces green as a sign of divine legitimization leaves and fruits. As a missionary, he moved to Symos and Lycia until he suffered martyrdom by beheading.

In Western Legend version, considered the entry into the Legenda Aurea, appeared on a giant named Offerus who wanted to serve only the most powerful rulers. After serving king and devil told him a hermit, he should his powers available to God: He no longer wore pilgrim over a river. Once a child confided to him that he took on his shoulders. As its weight is constantly increasing, the child as Creator and Lord of the world are seen. Offerus is named Christopher, was baptized and his staff becomes green to confirm. He is a missionary and died a martyr's death.

Fritz Griebel recorded the martyrs shape laterally lunge. Both hands hold the green with leaves walking stick firmly enclosed. He wears a robe rotgelbliches hochgeschürtztes and a light blue with yellow accents busy cloak that is bulked up by the wind. His head is turned towards the viewer. The long blonde hair is laid back. The face of the martyr is hidden by a beard something. His look is energetic and determined. On his shoulders he wears the naked herrscherliche Child playing with orb and cross and a crown.

Suppresses the form of the Holy dynamism, the light green and drawn in side view tanks and soldiers act statuary. Block adhesive with an open stance, hands limply hanging stand as the helmeted soldiers. Their faces are not recognizable. They symbolize the anonymous mass that should be fighting at the front.

Christopher is now commonly known as the patron saint of pilgrims and travelers, it is also patron to a sudden death. On many outside walls of churches therefore large frescoes were provided with his image, because the morning sight of his image, should ensure protection against a sudden and unrepentant death until evening.

Especially last symbolic function seems to want Griebel had visualize his design. It is understandable that his sketch was no reaction, it is not yet kriegspropagandistisch. They can be interpreted even as veiled criticism against the impending war machine, should find death in millions of people.

Fritz Griebel: Ideenskizze in Verbindung mit einem Wachlokal, 1937, Buntstiftzeichnung mit Aquarell, 40 x 27 cm.


Also, another design for a guardroom of the new barracks in Schweinfurt shows no Nazi Heroisierungen, but simply on a perch sleeping chickens, which are guarded by a little off standing cock. The picture theme is amusing and ironic at the same time: Griebel analogized the soldiering with poultry. Just as the fowls night comes into the stable, the soldiers in the guard room, a ready room with beds, vergattert. In Griebel design the sleeping hens are partially locked behind bars. If danger threatens, is the cock, that the guard supervisors crows.

"Fritz Griebel was a humanist", the painter and former student Fritz Griebel Rolf Fütterer recalled in an interview 2011. Griebel was known to be the first director of the Academy of Fine Arts, Nuremberg after the Second World War (1948-1966) and there is also professor of painting and free graphics (1946-1966). As justification for granting his teaching it is said in a letter to the Academy of 13.1.1948: "The well-known artistic skills of the artist Griebel justify the hope that he would exercise a successful teacher at the Nuremberg Academy." (BayHStA, MK 51448)

This assumption should be confirmed. At his friend Gustav Seitz he wrote in 1944: "[...] Hopefully we might have life and can really get going again in the near future. I could start tomorrow. "


Antje Buchwald 2016



  • Werner Scheel (Hg.): Umbrüche. Maler einer verschollenen Generation. Reimer, Berlin 1998.
  • Birgit Rauschert: Die verhinderte Moderne. Nürnberger Künstler der „verschollenen Generation“. 2013 Dettelbach a.M. (Zitat Eitel Klein: Tagebuch, 01.–19.03.1939, Privatbesitz (sic); S. 47).
  • Gustav Seitz. Werke und Dokumente. Ausst.-Kat. München 1984 (Zitat: Fritz Griebel: Brief an Gustav Seitz, Streitberg, 28.04.1944, S. 56).
  • F. Werner: Christopherus. In: LCI. Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie. Rom u.a., Bd. 5, S. 496–508.
  • Rainer Zimmermann: Die Kunst der verschollenen Generation. Deutsche Malerei des expressiven Realismus von 1925–1975. Düsseldorf u. a. 1980, (überarbeitete Neuausgabe: Expressiver Realismus. Malerei der verschollenen Generation. München 1994.).