Portrait of the Family Lütjens

Portrait of the Family Lütjens 1944

Max Beckmann

Room 06

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About this artwork

This family portrait was made in Amsterdam towards the end of the Second World War. It was painted by the German artist Max Beckmann in the studio at his home in Rokin. Beckmann had fled to the Netherlands in 1937, after the Nazis condemned his work as degenerate (entartete Kunst) and banned him from exhibiting it in Germany. Beckmann led a solitary and difficult life in Amsterdam, but it was also a fruitful period in his career. In the ten years he spent there, he produced one third of his entire oeuvre. His anchor and refuge during that time was Helmuth Lütjens, director of the Dutch branch of the German art firm Paul Cassirer. Beckmann portrayed Lütjens with his wife Nelly and their eighteen-month-old daughter Annemarie. The family is shown in the kitchen of the art gallery on Keizersgracht, which was also the space in which they lived. The painting, however, was executed in Beckmann’s studio. Beckmann worked from the quick pencil sketches he had made, not only of the adults but, in particular, of Annemarie. Lütjens saw the work only once it was finished. He was deeply moved and bought it on the spot.

About the creator

Max Beckmann

Leipzig 1884 - New York 1950

Max Beckmann studied in Wiemar in 1900 and later left for Berlin. In 1906 he met the artist Edvard Munch and exhibited together with the Neue Sachlichkeit artists Otto Dix and George Grosz. He gave lessons at the Academy in Frankfurt until he was dismissed in 1933 by the Nazi regime and found himself subject to an exhibition prohibition. His work was declared 'entartet' (degenerate) and Beckmann felt obliged to flee to Amsterdam. Despite a difficult time in this city, he still produced one third of his work in this period. In 1947, Beckmann moved to New York where he died three years later.


Object details

material and technique: oil on canvas
kind of object: painting
creditline: Aankoop met steun van / Purchase with support of: Familie Lütjens, BankGiro Loterij, Familiestichting Nolst Trenité, G.Ph. Verhagen Stichting, Gemeente Rotterdam, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, Marlene Dumas, Ministerie van OC&W, Ministerie van Financiën, Mondriaan Fonds, Fonds 21, Stichting Bevordering van Volkskracht, Stichting Nationaal Fonds Kunstbezit, Vereniging Rembrandt, de heer F.J. de Visser, VSB Fonds 2009
inventory number: 3610 (MK)