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.
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.
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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