Little Walter’s Toys, August Macke
August Macke
Little Walter’s Toys
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August Macke

Little Walter’s Toys, 1912

50.5 x 60.4 cm
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Inventory Number
SG 1192
Acquired in 1959
On display, 1st upper level, Modern Art, room 15


About the Work

For his portraits, Macke often chose motifs from his familiar surroundings. He repeatedly portrayed his first son Walter, born on 13 April 1910. He is not shown here, however, but represented by his toys: stuffed animals, balls and a Russian doll were arranged by the artist on a tablecloth. With its bright colours and the objects’ contours, Macke flattened the painting’s structure. This style can be traced back to his intense analysis of Henri Matisse’s works, an influence that was clearly noticeable between 1910 and 1912.

About the Acquisition

During the Third Reich, the museum's collection of modernist art was almost entirely lost by the confiscation in 1937 of what the National Socialists had labelled "degenerate art". The first decades after the Second World War were therefore devoted to rebuilding the department. Given the conditions in the post-war years, the city of Frankfurt was in no position to make funds for the purchase of art available in any significant way, and so the revived Museums-Verein focused intensively on this area of collection. In 1959, for example, the association planned to acquire two works for the collection: August Macke's 'Little Walter's Toys' and Otto Dix's 'The Artist's Family'. The asking price for each of the paintings was about 12,000 marks, but the city only had funds to purchase the painting by Macke. The Museums-Verein took over the costs of purchasing Dix's family portrait, so that today the two pictures hang in the gallery.

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