Max Beckmann - Portrait Curt Valentin

Max Beckmann - Portrait Curt Valentin - image-1
Max Beckmann - Portrait Curt Valentin - image-1

Max Beckmann

Portrait Curt Valentin
Circa 1946/1947

Pencil drawing on light grey wove paper with watermark "INGRES" 28.8 x 21.2 cm Framed under glass. Signed and dated 'Beckmann August 47 Amsterdam' lower right as well as dedicated: 'Souvenir St. Louis für "Kurt" 29. III. 48'. - Overall good condition. With two small gaps to the perforated left margin. Verso lower left inscribed "1843 C" in pencil (probably Valentin's inventory number).

On 29 August 1947, Beckmann migrated from his exile in Amsterdam to New York where he arrived on 17 September 1947. He was welcomed by his friend, the art dealer Curt Valentin (1902-1954). From 1933 until his emigration to New York in January 1937, Curt Valentin had ran the Galerie Buchholz in Berlin. In 1938, he organised a solo exhibition for Beckmann in his newly opened New York "Buchholz Gallery/ Curt Valentin" which was subsequently shown in six American cities. Valentin repeatedly supported the artist financially and in addition to that enabled his entry into the USA. Beckmann received a teaching assignment in painting at the University of St. Louis for several months. This is where the subsequent backdating and dedication of the drawing took place. Despite the sketchy execution of the portrait, the fast ductus gives rise to a very succinct and individual image of his cherished dealer.
The oil painting "Bildnis Curt Valentin und Hanns Swarzenski" dated 1946, which is located in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, also bears the dedication "FÜR KURT VALENTIN V. BECKMANN A 46". Beckmann gave it to the art dealer in December 1946 in gratitude for his endless support (cf. Schütt (ed.), Beckmann & Amerika, exhib. cat. Städel Museum, Frankfurt 2011/2012, p. 86, 87 with colour illus.). The comparison with a further very similar drawing dated 1946 suggests that our sheet also originated during the summer of 1946, serving as a preliminary study for the said Boston oil painting (cf. Max Beckmann, Portrait Curt Valentin, July 1946, graphite on laid paper, 29 x 21 cm, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, registry no. AC 1997.65.1). This would mean that the artist only erroneously backdated our sheet subsequently in St. Louis - a fact that isn't unusual in Beckmann's works.
The high-quality drawing comes from the estate of Sue Van de Bovenkamp. Born in 1928, The New Yorker and her husband Armand G. Erpf, financier and consultant to the American presidents, were keen supporters of the New York art and museum scene.


We would like to thank Stephan von Wiese and Mayen Beckmann, Cologne, for additional information and oral confirmation after presentation of the original on 22 January 2014.


Armand G. Erpf Estate NY, Sue Erpf Van de Bovenkamp; Private possession, USA


Erhard und Barbara Göpel, Max Beckmann, Katalog der Gemälde, vol. I, Bern 1976, p. 439, with illus. p. 589.

Lot 344 N

12.000 € - 15.000 €

10.980 €