Two Friends, Karl Hofer
Karl Hofer
Two Friends
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Karl Hofer

Two Friends, 1926

100.0 x 70.0 cm
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Inventory Number
Acquired in 1928. Confiscated in 1937. Reacquired in 1966 as a gift from Ernst A. Teves
On display, 1st upper level, Modern Art, room 14


About the Work

With their naked torsos, the two exhausted-looking men stand close together. Their relationship seems unclear: while the dark-haired man seems to seek closeness, the one in front looks into the distance without reacting to or reciprocating the touch. Among other aspects, this tension between closeness and distance leads to the picture’s perturbing effect. Unlike the more open title used today, the Old Testament title “David and Jonathan” used before 1931 implied a homoerotic male friendship. With this reference to the story of an intimate love between the king’s son Jonathan and the shepherd David, Hofer drew on a theme that was particularly prevailing in 1920s Berlin. Then, the city was considered a worldwide centre of gay and lesbian life. However, Hofer’s piece speaks above all of the existential tragedy of a life that was legally and socially unacceptable.

About the Acquisition

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.

Work Data

Basic Information

Two Friends
Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Label at the Time of Manufacture
Monogrammiert unten links: C H.
Work Catalogues
  • Wohlert/Eisenbeis 703

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2024, Foto: U. Edelmann
Acquired in 1928. Confiscated in 1937. Reacquired in 1966 as a gift from Ernst A. Teves

Work Content

Motifs and References

Main Motif
Associated Persons and Institutions


  • 33A5 friends
  • 61B112(+53) anonymous historical persons portrayed in a double portrait (+ half-length portrait)
  • 31D14 adult man
  • 31D14(+72) adult man (+ two persons)
  • 31A231 standing figure
  • 33A52 hand on shoulder (friends)
  • 31AA25161 arm or hand held in front of the chest - AA - both arms or hands
  • 31A2523 hands against each other

Research and Discussion


Object History
Karl Hofer
Verkauf über die Galerie Flechtheim und Kahnweiler an die Stadt Frankfurt am Main, 1928 [Inv. Nr. SG 437]
beschlagnahmt als „entartete Kunst“ durch das Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, Juli 1937
im Tausch an Bernhard Böhmer (1892-1945), Güstrow, 1940
Nachlass Bernhard Böhmer, 1945
an Albert Friedrich Daberkow (1928-1969), Berlin, 1950
Schenkung Ernst A. Teves an das Städelsche Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, 1966.


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

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