Max Beckman

Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery
1917
Max Beckmann
German, 1884–1950
oil on canvas
58 3/4 x 49 7/8 in. (149.2 x 126.7 cm)
Bequest of Curt Valentin
Accession Number: 185:1955
Place made: Frankfurt am Main, Hessen, Germany
Towards the end of the First World War, Max Beckmann painted a series of works with religious themes. This painting depicts the Biblical story of a woman who sought Christ’s protection from an angry mob ready to stone her to death for adultery. In Beckmann’s painting, the magnanimous Christ and humble adulteress appear unified—their eyes closed against the raised fists and haughtily pointed fingers of the crowd. Beckmann adopted certain formal qualities, such as the elongated limbs of the figures, from early Christian art. The concentrated composition and smooth paint application distinguish this canvas from Beckmann’s earlier impressionist works. This painting was one of the first to confront visitors to the infamous “Degenerate Art” exhibition organized by the National Socialist (Nazi) regime in 1937.This object is part of the Saint Louis Art Museum’sEuropean Provenance Disclosure Project.
Signed: u.l., in brown paint: Beckmann / 17
Provenance:
Max Beckmann (1884-1950), Frankfurt am Main, Germany [1]1919 – 1937
Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany, purchased from the artist [2]1937/07/08 – German National Socialist (Nazi) government, confiscated as “degenerate” from the Kunsthalle Mannheim, July 8, 1937 [3]c.1938 – 1955
Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), New York, NY, USA [4]1955 – Saint Louis Art Museum, bequest of Curt Valentin [5]
Notes:
The main source for this provenance is Göpel’s catalogue raisonné, cat. no. 197 [Göpel, Erhard and Barbara Göpel. “Max Beckmann: Katalog der Gemälde.” Bern: Kornfeld & Cie., 1976]. Exceptions and other supporting documents are noted.
[1] Max Beckmann kept lists of most of his paintings which often included the dates that they were worked on and notes on who purchased them. This painting appears on Beckmann’s list as number 1917:161/10. He also added to this list that the painting was purchased by the Kunsthalle Mannheim.
[2] This painting was inventory no. 482.
[3] The painting was seized on July 8, 1937 as part of the National Socialist campaign against so-called degenerate art. It was assigned inventory number 15936, and exhibited in the first room at the “Degenerate Art” exhibition in Munich in 1937 [Barron, Stephanie, ed. “‘Degenerate Art’: The Fate of the Avant-garde in Nazi Germany.” Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1991].
[4] This painting was lent by Buchholz Gallery to a 1941 exhibition [“Expressionism” Cincinnati Modern Art Society, Cincinnati Art Museum, April 20 – May 20, 1941].
[5] Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, April 8, 1955.
Alternate Title(s):
Christus und die Sünderin
Christus und die Ehebrecherin
Christ and the Adultress
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