Breakfast, Maurice Denis
Maurice Denis
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Maurice Denis

Breakfast, 1901

51.3 x 66.5 cm
Physical Description
Oil on cardboard
Inventory Number
SG 392
Acquired in 1926
Not on display


About the Work

An idyllic breakfast: the blissful-looking family of the Nabis artist is seated around a table by the window which affords a view across a bay. The figures are shown close to the viewer and form a compact unit. Thanks to their stylistic homogeneity, the patterns on the fabric of the clothing and the tablecloth fuse to form a decorative surface, whereby the identical patterns on the dresses of the mother and the younger daughter blend into each other. This work reflects Denis's view that a painting is primarily a surface covered with paint in a certain arrangement rather than the rendering of a subject.

About the Acquisition

Pauline Kowarzik (née Fellner; 1852–1930) grew up in the educated middle-class of Frankfurt and received private painting and drawing lessons at a young age. Later, she was taught by Heinrich Campendonk, among others. In 1896, she married the Viennese sculptor and medallist Josef Kowarzik (1860–1911), who taught sculpture at the Städelschule. Together, they were very active participants of Frankfurt’s art life and closely associated with the Städel Art Institute. Due to her notable knowledge of modern art, Pauline Kowarzik was the first woman to be appointed as a member with advisory capacity in the acquisition committee of the Städtische Galerie in 1916. During her tenure, the museum was able to acquire important contemporary paintings by Franz Marc, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Henri Matisse and Max Beckmann, among others. Kowarzik herself owned a significant collection with works by Campendonk, Cross, Denis, van Dongen, Heckel, Gauguin, Maillol, Niestlé, Rousseau, Sérusier and Modersohn-Becker. When the inflation in 1926 got her into financial trouble, Pauline Kowarzik sold her private collection to the Städel for a monthly life annuity. In 1937, 18 of the 34 works were removed from the museum as part of the “Degenerate Art” confiscation operation. Nowadays, they are either lost or in museums all over Germany, Belgium, Ireland and Switzerland. Heckel’s “Holsteinische Landschaft” was the only one of these works that the Städel was able to buy back.

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