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Early in his life Beuys had been deeply influenced by the work of Richard Wagner, although he distanced himself from his antisemiticism and ultra-nationalism. The dwarf, Alberich, who steals the gold from the Rhine Maidens, fashions a ring from it but loses it to the Gods, appears in several of Beuys's works, including a play written in 1963. In this drawing the distinctive hat confirms the figure's identity, in what is an unpretentious and humorous self-portrait. In one hand the man holds a twig or root, referring to his interest in nature. The action of digging suggests the artist's scientific, enquiring mind and his desire to explore the world around him. Like the figure shown here, Beuys loved to use humble and natural materials and was not afraid to work hard or get his hands dirty.