Max Beckmann (1884-1950)

After fleeing Nazi Germany, the expressionist painter Max Beckmann found his way to Amsterdam. From 1937 to 1947 Max and his second wife Mathilde (‘Quappi’) von Kaulbach lived in this residence – consisting of a room en suite with shower, with a kitchen in the corridor and a studio in the attic. To Beckmann Amsterdam was a delightful city and he rejoiced at the ‘cheerful chatter’ of its inhabitants, but he considered his exile there as a period of transition before moving on to Paris or the United States. Nevertheless, his stay was a long and productive one; he produced more than a third of his oeuvre here. Even during the Dutch famine winter of 1944, when the temperature in his studio on Rokin did not rise above eight degrees Celsius, he continued to produce paintings, drawings and sketches based on his favourite subjects like the theatre and circus artists. Despite having held a solo exhibition in 1938 at the Van Lier gallery, which was also situated on Rokin, he was unable to break through as an artist. This situation made his eventual departure from Amsterdam inevitable. After liberation Max Beckmann was finally able to leave the ‘ironing board’, the disparaging term he used for his flat land of exile. He worked as an artist and teacher for another three years in the United States until his death in 1950. A mere three paintings by Beckmann can be found in Dutch collections, one of which is the double portrait of Beckmann and his wife in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.


Photo: City Archive Amsterdam