For Beckmann, the circus and the stage were symbols of human existence. Like a director, he enacted the great “theatre” of life. Beckmann himself appears repeatedly alongside actors, jugglers and artists. Here, he can be seen as a newspaper-reading circus director, with his wife Mathilde, depicted as a fortune teller, is lying on a sofa in front of him. Beckmann’s works are ambiguous, with numerous personal allusions. This painting seems to reflect the oppressive conditions during his exile in Amsterdam. It was the first of his paintings to be acquired by the Städel after 1945.
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 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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