Walter and Käthe Carl were among the first to collect Beckmann’s paintings in Frankfurt. The artist had met the couple through Walter Carl’s sister Fridel Battenberg and was henceforth a frequent guest at their flat in the city’s Westend district. Painted on commission, the portrait is an outstanding example of the transformation that had come about in Beckmann’s style during World War I. Inspired by his intense exploration of the printmaking medium, the artist now constructed confined spatial stages in which the subjects are physically close, but inwardly distant from one another. Like the leafless trees and darkened sky, the house facades that form the threatening backdrop can be read as symbols of the precarious circumstances prevailing at the end of the war.