With bare upper bodies, the two men are standing close together, one behind the another. Only the older man is seeking physical contact. The younger of the two is looking into the distance and not responding to the touch. The imbalance of closeness and distance lends the painting a certain uneasiness, which Hofer underscores with severe shapes, a green translucency of the skin and the static frontality of the figures. The initial title of ‘David and Jonathan’, taken from the Old Testament, echoes the notion of a homoerotic male friendship. The painting was defamed in the ‘Degenerate Art’ exhibition of 1937.
Thanks to a donation by Frankfurt entrepreneur Ernst August Teves (1919–1986), a painting that had already been acquired for the Städel Museum in 1928 found its way back into the collection. In 1937 it was labelled ‘degenerate’ and confiscated. In the early post-war years, neither public nor foundation funds were available to repurchase it. The painting’s reacquisition was finally made possible in 1966 by a generous private donation from Teves, who was a longstanding member of the Museums-Verein’s managing committee.
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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