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PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Max Beckmann
TÜRKENBUNDLILIEN (TURK'S CAP LILIES)
JUMP TO LOT
29

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Max Beckmann
TÜRKENBUNDLILIEN (TURK'S CAP LILIES)
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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London

Max Beckmann
1884 - 1950
TÜRKENBUNDLILIEN (TURK'S CAP LILIES)
signed Beckmann and dated A.37 (lower right)
oil on canvas
60 by 80cm.
23 5/8 by 31 1/2 in.
Painted in Amsterdam in 1937.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Stephan Lackner, Paris & Santa Barbara (acquired from the artist in 1938; until at least 1967)

Roman Norbert Ketterer, Campione d'Italia

Private Collection, Germany (acquired by 1976)

Acquired by the present owner in 1991

Exhibited

New York, Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin); Kansas City; Los Angeles; San Francisco; St. Louis, City Art Museum; Portland & Seattle, Exhibition of Recent Paintings by Max Beckmann, 1938, no. 21

New York, Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), Max Beckmann, Recent Paintings, 1939, no. 10

Chicago, The Arts Club of Chicago, Max Beckmann, 1942, no. 27 (titled Fleur de Lis)

Albion College, Albion, Michigan (extended loan, 1954)

Downey, California, The Downey Museum of Art, Max Beckmann. Oils, Watercolors, Lithographs, 1960, no. 9

Bremen, Kunsthalle; Berlin, Akademie der Künste; Karlsruhe, Badischer Kunstverein; Vienna, Wiener Secession; Linz, Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz, Wolfgang-Gurlitt-Museum & Lucerne, Kunstmuseum, Max Beckmann, 1966-67, no. 23, illustrated in the catalogue

Kochel am See, Max Beckmann. Kleine Stillleben, 2013, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Hamburg, Kunsthalle, Max Beckmann. Die Stillleben, 2014-15, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Literature

The artist's handlist, 1937, listed as Türkenbundlilien 

Benno Reifenberg & Wilhelm Hausenstein, Max Beckmann, Munich, 1949, no. 387

Roman Norbert Ketterer, Campione d'Italia, Lagerkatalog VII, Campione d'Italia, 1971, no. 11, illustrated in colour

Friedhelm Wilhelm Fischer, Max Beckmann. Symbol und Weltbild, Munich, 1972, pl. 36, illustrated p. 117

Erhard & Barbara Göpel, Max Beckmann, Katalog der Gemälde, Bern, 1976, vol. I, no. 475, catalogued p. 306; vol. II, no. 475, illustrated pl. 164

Reinhard Spieler, Max Beckmann. Der Weg zum Mythos, Cologne, 1994, illustrated in colour p. 148

Catalogue Note

‘In lush bouquets of flowers [Beckmann] could celebrate direct sensuous experience, but also construct complex arrangements of objects in ambitious pictorial architectures: the still life was an interface of sensation and mind, of nature and abstraction.’

Karin Schik in Max Beckmann. Die Stillleben (exhibition catalogue), Kunsthalle, Hamburg, 2014-15, p. 11

Painted in 1937, Türkenbundlilien was created during the most fruitful and inventive phase of Beckmann’s career, which occurred while he was living in exile in Amsterdam in the years preceding and during the Second World War (fig. 1). Many of his works executed during this time are considered the best of his œuvre, including imposing self-portraits and mythologically-inspired triptychs depicting scenes of plight and peril. Beckmann and his wife Quappi came to Amsterdam from Berlin on 19th July 1937, the same day that the infamous ‘Degenerate Art’ exhibition opened at the Kunsthaus in Munich. Their relocation was one of political necessity, as the avant-garde Beckmann was already being singled out by authorities as a potentially subversive presence within the Reich. Before moving to the United States in 1947, the artist summed up his time in Holland in a letter to his friend Stephan Lackner, the first owner of the present work: ‘May I report about myself that I have had a truly grotesque time, full to the brim with work, Nazi persecutions, bombs, hunger and always again work – in spite of everything’ (quoted in Max Beckmann Retrospect (exhibition catalogue), St. Louis Museum of Art, 1984, p. 155).

Beckmann’s mastery in the genre of still-life lies in his ability to find a poetic beauty as well as powerful metaphors in everyday objects. The present example is a vibrant arrangement of a vase of flowers and an open book on a table top. The background is divided between the curtain on the left, and a nocturnal scene seen through the window on the right. Signals of political persecution and Beckmann’s reaction to the oppression of the era were abundant in his work of this period. Uwe M. Schneede wrote about the present work: ‘Shortly after settling in Amsterdam in 1937, he painted the still life entitled Still Life with Turk’s Cap Lilies. An open book lies beneath a wildly spreading bouquet. Nina Peter recently refuted an earlier interpretation of this work as a theosophical diagram […] and advanced the idea that the motif is a Star of David and thus a “reference to the political conditions of the time” – a thinly veiled sign of solidarity’ (U.M. Schneede in Max Beckmann. Die Stillleben (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 31). Furthermore, the darkness that envelopes a cityscape glimpsed through the window serves as a powerful metaphor for the anxiety the artist felt during the early months of his life in exile, and the uncertainly of what lies ahead.

Eric M. Zafran wrote of Beckmann’s still-lifes: ‘Beckmann had always had an interest in still lifes as emblems of basic human concerns, and his works in this genre became ever more emphatic as his career developed. Amid the claustrophobic setting and harsh realities of life in Amsterdam during World War II, the bouquets of flowers assembled by his devoted wife might have proven a welcome relief to the artist, but he invested them with explosive power. The bold strokes and angular forms suggest a yearning for escape’ (E. M. Zafran, Prized Possessions: European Paintings from Private Collections of Friends of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 1992, pp. 124-125).

Türkenbundlilien was acquired directly from the artist by the distinguished Beckmann scholar and collector Stephan Lackner, in whose collection it remained for several decades. Stephan Lackner was the pen name of Ernest Gustave Morgenroth, a writer, journalist, violinist and scholar who became arguably Beckmann’s most important patron. The two men first met towards the end of the 1920s, when Lackner was a student, but it was in 1933 that the definitive moment of revelation came that would open up a lifetime of friendship, patronage and scholarship. An exhibition of Beckmann’s work planned for that year was banned by the National Socialists as they proclaimed his art ‘degenerate’. Lackner managed to persuade the museum officials to show him the works hidden in the museum’s basement, and this experience was to leave a profound impression on him. A great friendship and admiration grew between the two men and spanned more than two decades. During his long life Lackner acquired more than sixty-five paintings and a number of watercolours by Beckmann. Among these were the celebrated epic triptych Abfahrt (Departure) from 1932-35, now at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Selbstbildnis mit Horn (Self-Portrait with Horn) of 1938.

 

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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London