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Gallery Text

Famed for his scathing Weimar-era satirical drawings, Grosz fled Germany in 1933 just weeks before Hitler became chancellor. He settled in New York and, in 1938, became an American citizen. Created in 1950–51, this sketchbook is filled with views of Manhattan, but then shifts abruptly to studies of mice caught in traps. Grosz recorded the modern geometries of the New York skyline from the apartment of a client who had commissioned him to paint a view of the city. His drawings depict the Chrysler and Empire State buildings and countless other high-rises from a range of perspectives in a loose yet confident hand. In contrast, his highly controlled and minutely detailed studies of dead mice, though made while the artist was living in America, look back to a realist tradition in German art. Grosz embraced that tradition while faulting other new art—gestural abstraction, specifically—for relying too heavily on fantasy and invention and not enough on nature.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
George Grosz, American (Berlin, Germany 1893 - 1959 Berlin, Germany)
Sketchbook: Manhattan Skyline and Mice
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Mausezeichbuch
Work Type
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Green cardboard covers, black cloth spine; thirty-eight pages of off-white wove paper
actual: 23.3 x 15.3 x 1 cm (9 3/16 x 6 x 3/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: inside front cover, red watercolor, in artist's hand: 1950,51 / George Grosz / Huntington / The Cottage / Hilaire Farm
  • inscription: inside front cover, blue and red watercolor, in artist's hand: [blue watercolor:] To Leon / HARRIS / with all my / best wishes / [red and blue watercolor:] George Grosz / [red watercolor:] June 1952 * Huntington
  • inscription: inside back cover, graphite: [311?]


Recorded Ownership History
George Grosz, gift; to Leon Harris, 1952. Anonymous Collector, gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1955.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Anonymous gift in gratitude for the friendship and kindness of Dean Wilbur Joseph Bender
© Estate of George Grosz / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art

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Sketchbook with green cardboard covers, black cloth spine, and square corners. Sewn page block. Perforated pages of smooth-surfaced, off-white wove paper with square corners. If removed at perforation, pages would be 23.3 x 14.3 cm. Pages are numbered in graphite at upper right. Cellophane tape reinforces binding between inside front cover and first page. 38 pages, 34 with drawings (four blank pages are unnumbered in database).

Publication History

  • Agnes Mongan, "The Fogg Art Museum's Collection of Drawings", Harvard Library Bulletin, Harvard University (Cambridge, 1958), vol. 3, no. 2, March, pp. 5-9, p. 205
  • Peter Nisbet, ed., The Sketchbooks of George Grosz, exh. cat., Busch-Reisinger Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1993), p. 186 (whole sketchbook); inside front cover repr. p. 130
  • Under Cover: Artists' Sketchbooks, website, Harvard University Art Museums, 2006,

Exhibition History

  • Deutsche Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts aus dem Busch-Reisinger Museum, Stadtische Galerie im Stadelschen Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, 10/23/1982 - 01/16/1983; Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin 30, 02/10/1983 - 04/17/1983; Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, 05/08/1983 - 06/26/1983
  • The Sketchbooks of George Grosz, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/09/1993 - 12/12/1993
  • Under Cover: Artists' Sketchbooks, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 08/01/2006 - 10/22/2006
  • 32Q: 1320 Social Realism, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 10/14/2015

Related Works

Verification Level

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