March Days I, 1883
etching and aquatint on japan paper
62.5 x 45.5 cm; plate: 46 x 35.7 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 23131.10)
Although the title refers to the March Revolution of 1848, Klinger intended these three etchings to illustrate a fictional revolution in contemporary (1883) Berlin. The current mood in the city was explosive due both to economic hardship among the lower classes and to the Bismarck government's adoption of the so-called "Socialist Laws" of 1878, which forbade meetings of socialist and communist organizations and the distribution of their literature. In the first print, a rowdy group of revolutionaries celebrates a victory. In the foreground, rebels walk arm-in-arm, while in the background the crowd plunders a wealthy house. In the second composition, rebels fight a losing battle. From left to right, figures range from those standing and fighting to those dead and fleeing. At the far right, an apparition expressing utter hopelessness stands under an advertising column. In the final print, armed soldiers lead a convoy of rebels away from the city through a romantic, moonlit landscape. This scene of sombre darkness reflects the end of the failed revolution.