Man lying beneath a Blossoming Tree, Paula Modersohn-Becker
Paula Modersohn-Becker
Man lying beneath a Blossoming Tree
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Paula Modersohn-Becker

Man lying beneath a Blossoming Tree, 1903

52.0 x 74.0 cm
Physical Description
Oil on cardboard
Inventory Number
Acquired in 2001 with the Werner Wirthle Bequest
On display, 1st upper level, Modern Art, room 11


About the Work

"She hates the conventional and now she is making the mistake of preferring to make everything angular, ugly, strange and wooden. The colour is fantastic, but the form?" - wrote Otto Modersohn in 1903 on the works of his wife. Paula Modersohn-Becker had just returned from Paris when she created this painting. Full of new impressions, she created a work packed with tension between spatiality and surface. The only three-dimensional element is the tree, which stands out against the landscape. The man lying beneath it seems to fuse with his surroundings. It is not surprising that Modersohn-Becker's colleagues in Worpswede reacted with incomprehension.

About the Acquisition

The Frankfurt editor and executive director of Societäts Publishing House, Werner Wirthle (1908-2001), was a member of the Städel administration for twenty years. He began his art collection back in the 1920s and was particularly interested in modern sculpture. His collection of paintings reflects his close friendship with the painter Max Ackermann. Wirthle donated single works during his lifetime and bequeathed his entire collection and his heritable assets to the Städel.

Work Data

Basic Information

Man lying beneath a Blossoming Tree
Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Oil on cardboard
Work Catalogues
  • Busch/Werner 1998, Nr. 444

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
Public Domain
Acquired in 2001 with the Werner Wirthle Bequest

Work Content

Motifs and References

Main Motif
Associated Persons and Institutions


  • 31D14 adult man
  • 31A236 lying figure
  • 25G3(+32) trees (+ flowers, blossom, blossoming)
  • 23F42 spring landscape; landscape symbolizing spring (the four seasons of the year)

Research and Discussion


Object History
Werner Wirthle (1908-2001), Frankfurt am Main
Nachlass Werner Wirthle, 2001
Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, 2001.


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 type of acquisition and/or the way the object changed hands
  • the owner's name and place of residence
  • the date on which it changed hands

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 .

Conservation and Restoration

Art-technology findings and/or documentation regarding conservation and restoration are available for this work. If interested, please contact .

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