After his son Ursus’ birth in spring 1927, Otto Dix began a series of portraits of children and families. This one here shows the infant in his mother Martha’s arms as well as the daughter Nelly and the artist himself. Dix carefully prepared the composition with several studies, to then transfer them to the wooden panel, which, combined with the delicate glaze painting, bears witness to his intense study of the Old Masters. This also explains the motif’s similarity to medieval depictions of the Holy Family as well as the artist’s grotesque expression. Dix refers here to the shepherds (who were often depicted with a rather crude physiognomy) adoring the Child.
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 side by side in the gallery.