Erich Heckel

Gegner (Opponents) , 1912


25 x 24.3 cm

edition small but unknown size

$12,000 - $35,000

Simon Theobald Ltd


+44 (0) 207 629 0629


Gegner is realted to the important painting Zwei Männer am Tisch of the same date and which is now in the Kunsthalle Hamburg. The composition of the woodcut is reversed. Two men are at a table on which there is a knife with a gleaming blade.  Behind them on the wall is a picture of Christ

Heckel was engrossed in the work of Dostoyevsky at this period, and this subject has been related both to The Brothers Karamazov and to The Idiot. Heckel was intrigued by the psychological complexities in Dostoyevsky’s work and the theme of two men with a knife between them was particularly compelling.

In The Idiot (1869), Prince Myschkin and Parfyon Rogozhin who are in a triangular relationship with Nastassya Filippovna meet and despite their declarations of Brotherhood (beneath a Holbein painting of the Body of Christ in the Tomb) Rogozhin later attempts to stab Myschkin.  

Dostoyevsky was captivated by the Holbein painting. In 1867, his wife had to drag her husband away from the picture in case its grip on him induced an epileptic fit.  Prince Myshkin, after viewing the painting in the home of Rogozhin, declares that it has the power to make the viewer lose his faith

There is an impression of this woodcut in the Museum of Modern Art, New York