Backstage, Max Beckmann
Max Beckmann
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Max Beckmann

Backstage, 1950

101.5 x 127.0 cm
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Inventory Number
SG 1268
Acquired in 1989 with means provided by the City of Frankfurt am Main, the Hessische Kulturstiftung and the Dresdner Bank
On display, 1st upper level, Modern Art, room 9


About the Work

The curtain has fallen for good. A look behind the scenes reveals an unreal, stage-like space of great depth. Numerous exits lead into an indeterminate darkness. Crown, sword, spear and rings – familiar quotations from the artist’s pictorial world – are in an apparently arbitrary jumble. It is Beckmann’s last painting, the one he was still working on the day before his death in New York: a metaphor for the stage of life from which the painter has withdrawn. All is quiet, not a soul is to be seen, the candle has gone out, the props have been set down forever.

About the Acquisition

In 1989 a joint initiative of the City of Frankfurt, the Hessische Kulturstiftung and the Dresdner Bank AG enabled the Städel to make a prominent new acquisition. Beckmann had spent decisive years of his life in Frankfurt and taught at the Städelschule before leaving Germany in 1937 to go first to Amsterdam and later to New York. The collection of his works is thus a Städel tradition. Not only was that tradition interrupted during the Nazi era, but the Beckmann holdings assembled until then were destroyed by the confiscation of nine paintings.

Work Data

Basic Information

Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Work Catalogues
  • Göpel 2021 Nr. 830

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
Public Domain
Acquired in 1989 with means provided by the City of Frankfurt am Main, the Hessische Kulturstiftung and the Dresdner Bank

Work Content

Motifs and References

Main Motif



Research and Discussion


Object History
Max Beckmann (1884-1950), New York
Mathilde Beckmann (1904-1986), New York
verkauft über die Galerie Beyeler, Basel an die Städtische Galerie, Frankfurt am Main, 1989.


Since 2001, the Städel Museum has systematically been researching the provenance of all objects that were acquired during the National Socialist period, or that changed owners or could have changed owners during those years. The basis for this research is the “Washington Declaration”, also known as the “Washington Conference Principles”, formulated at the 1998 “Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets” and the subsequent “Joint Declaration”.

The provenance information is based on the sources researched at the time they were published digitally. However, this information can change at any time when new sources are discovered. Provenance research is therefore a continuous process and one that is updated at regular intervals.

Ideally, the provenance information documents an object’s origins from the time it was created until the date when it found its way into the collection. It contains the following details, provided they are known:

  • the type of acquisition and/or the way the object changed hands
  • the owner's name and place of residence
  • the date on which it changed hands

The successive ownership records are separated from each other by a semicolon.

Gaps in the record of a provenance are indicated by the placeholder “…”. Unsupported information is listed in square brackets.

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