Germany 1891 – 1969
Mahlzeit in der Sappe (Lorettohohe) [Mealtime in the trenches - The Loretto Hills], plate 13 from Der Krieg
Description: plate 13 from the portfolio Der Krieg [War], a portfolio of 50 prints in 5 parts, plus 1 additional print
Place made: Berlin, Germany
Materials & Technique: prints, Intaglio etching and aquatint, printed in black ink. Support: BSB-Maschinen-Butten
Manufacturer's Mark: BSB
Edition: ed 58/70
Publisher: VERLAG KARL NIERENDORF
Place Published: Berlin
Date Published: 1924
In the 1960s Dix stated, 'War reduces mankind to the state of beasts, with its hunger, vermin, mud and insane noises'. Mealtime in the trenches depicts not only the discomfort that soldiers had to endure, but also the impact that such extreme conditions could have on a person's dignity. A lone soldier gulps down a hasty meal apparently indifferent to the human skeleton trapped in the frozen landscape beside him.
This work is also an outstanding example of Dix's technical virtuosity. From the soft tonal gradations over the horizon, which suggest an impending storm, to the intricate, cross-hatched detail of the soldier's clothing, to the spattering produced by the action of acid directly on the plate, Dix demonstrates his remarkable command of the full range of the etching process. The variety of mark making produces an intensity of effect that mirrors the chaotic desolation of the battlefield.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra