This title comes from a scene in Wagner’s opera Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), in which Wotan’s son Siegmund, needing a weapon to fight the unwanted husband of his sister Sieglinde, cries out, "My father pledged me a sword." Instead of lodging the sword in an ash tree, as told in Germanic myths, Kiefer located it near the apex of a high cliff, where it would be dangerously inaccessible like Edelweiss, a plant native only to very high mountains. In the Alps, it is tradition to risk one’s life by scaling a cliff to obtain it as a lover’s gift. Just as the pursuit of Edelweiss is often deadly, so too is Siegmund’s plight; he eventually dies in battle with his sword Nothung ("needful") shattered.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Inscription: Titled (in ballpoint pen, along bottom edge): Ein Schwert verhieß mir der Vater
private collection (1975–83; sold in 1983 to d'Offay); [Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London, 1983–95; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Anselm Kiefer: Works on Paper in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," December 15, 1998–March 21, 1999, no. 19.
New York. Arnold and Marie Schwartz Gallery at the Metropolitan Opera. "From the Met to the Met: Anselm Kiefer and Wagner's Ring," February 17–May 9, 2009, unnum. brochure.
Nan Rosenthal in "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 1994–1995." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 53 (Autumn 1995), p. 68.
Nan Rosenthal. Anselm Kiefer: Works on Paper in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. 48, 50, no. 19, ill. p. 51 (color).