Its buildings lurching and swaying, the unsettled townscape seems almost to devour a small group of people. It is the painter himself, dressed in black, and his friends Ugi and Fridel Battenberg on their way home from a night out celebrating Carnival. They are passing the synagogue with its onion-shaped dome on Frankfurt’s Börneplatz square. The windows are brightly lit: morning prayers are in progress inside. The scene symbolizes the threatening circumstances of the period following World War I, which for Beckmann himself was one of existential crisis. The Synagogue in Frankfurt am Main was the first of a series of cityscapes he painted in Frankfurt between 1915 and 1933.
A depiction of a house of worship that would be set on fire during the November Pogrom of 1938, the painting would later prove to be as important to the city as it was to the artist. It entered the Städel Museum collection in 1972, having been purchased with municipal support and funds from private donors. Public street collections – for example at Hauptwache – had given the local citizens opportunities to contribute.
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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