The depiction conveys a certain unease: the composition forces the two women into a spatial proximity that only reinforces the viewer’s impression of their distanced relationship. Marie Swarzenski, wife of his patron and then Städel director Georg Swarzenski, and the latter’s secretary, Carola Netter, sat separately as models for the painting – for Beckmann to then unite them in one portrait. Marie Swarzenski’s angular features and stiff posture on the right appear austere in comparison to Carola Netter’s soft facial expression on the left. Beckmann also used the colour contrast of the dresses to emphasise the differences between the women, whose personalities can barely unfold in the narrow painting.
A resident of Frankfurt from 1915 onwards, Max Beckmann taught a master class at the Städelschule from 1925 to 1933. It was in this period that he became one of Germany’s best-known and most successful painters. Frankfurt’s Städtische Galerie cultivated an especially intensive relationship to Beckmann. Between 1919 and 1933 the collection purchased altogether thirteen of his paintings. In 1924 it received this personal work from the artist as a gift.
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.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact the museum at .
Art-technology findings and/or documentation regarding conservation and restoration are available for this work. If interested, please contact .