Sale: 535 / Evening Sale with Collection Hermann Gerlinger, Dec. 09. 2022 in Munich Lot 9


Max Beckmann
Holzsäger im Wald, 1931/32.
Oil on canvas
€ 600,000 - 800,000

$ 594,000 - 792,000

Holzsäger im Wald. 1931/32.
Oil on canvas.
Göpel 349. Lower right signed, dated "32" and inscribed "F" for Frankfurt am Main. 50 x 120 cm (19.6 x 47.2 in).
The work is mentioned on the artist's hand-written list of pictures as follows: "1931 Frankfurt u. Paris - Holzsäger im Wald. - Frankf. a / M - Frau v. Rappop." [AR].
• "Holzsäger im Wald" marks a transition in the artist's creation.
• Up until today, the whereabouts of "Holzsäger im Wald“ were unknwon and this is the first time that it is depicted in colors.
• Käthe von Porada acquired the painting in 1931, as a strong admirer, she played an important role in the artist's life.
• The year the work was made, the Musée du Jeu de Paume acquired the similar work "Waldlandschaft mit Holzfäller".
• In 1938 part of the historic exhibition "Twentieth Century German Art" at New Burlington Galleries in London, organized by English, French and German artists and art lovers as a sign of protest against the defamation of German art through the Nazi regime

PROVENANCE: Studio Max Beckmann
Käthe Anna Rapoport von Porada (1891-1985), Paris/Vence (1931 to at least 1956)
Private collection Southern Germany.

EXHIBITION: Max Beckmann, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Berlin, 1932, cat. no. 14 (with the title "Waldarbeiter").
Twentieth Century German Art, New Burlington Galleries, London, July 1938, cat. no. 16 (with the title "Woodcutters" and dated 1933).
Max Beckmann zum Gedächtnis 1884–1950, Haus der Kunst, Munich, June and July 1951, Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin, Sept. 1951, cat. no. 89.
Max Beckmann 1884–1950, Kunsthaus Zürich, Zürich, November 22, 1955 - January 8, 1956, cat. no. 60 (with the label on the reverse).
Max Beckmann, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, January 14 - February 12, 1956, cat. no. 51.
Max Beckmann, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, March 14 - May 7, 1956, cat. no. 44 (with the label on the reverse of the stretcher)
Max Beckmann, Galerie Valentien, Stuttgart, 1961 (no catalog).
11. Städtische Kunstausstellung. Max Beckmann. Graphik, Ausstellungsräume der Berufsschule, Schwenningen, 1968, cat. no. II.
Max Beckmann. A small loan retrospective of paintings, centred around his visit to London in 1938, Marlborough Fine Arts, London, October 30 - November 29, 1974, cat. no. 14, p. 33 (with illu., with the label on the reverse).

LITERATURE: Anonym, Kunstausstellungen in Berlin, Rezension, in: Der Kunstwanderer 1931/32, p. 200.
Hans Eckstein, Der Maler Max Beckmann, in: Kunst der Nation, Berlin, 1935, vol. 3, no. 4 (on the cover).
Franz Roh, Beckmann als Landschafter, in: Die Kunst und das schöne Heim, 50.1951, issue 1, p.15 (with illu. on p. 14).
Beatrice von Bormann, Landschaften des Exils – Max Beckmanns niederländische Jahre 1937-1947, p. 45, in: Kunstmuseum Basel (ed.), Max Beckmann. Die Landschaften, Ostfildern 2011.
Lucy Wasensteiner, Defending 'degenerate' art. London 1938. Mit Kandinsky, Liebermann und Nolde gegen Hitler, London, 2018.
Lucy Wasensteiner, The Twentieth Century German Art Exhibition: Answering Degenerate Art in 1930s London, 2019.

"The 'Holzsäger' from 1931 act like butchers slaughtering mighty trees in the middle of a pleasant dark green forest.“

Franz Roh, Beckmann als Landschafter, in: Die Kunst und das schöne Heim, 50.1951, issue 1, p. 15.

Called up: December 9, 2022 - ca. 17.16 h +/- 20 min.

The art critic, photographer, and acclaimed Beckmann expert Franz Roh characterizes the "Holzsäger im Wald" (Woodcutters in the Forest) in a way that is both striking and bizarre: "The "Holzsäger" from 1931 act like butchers that slaughter mighty trees, in the middle of a pleasant dark green forest." ("Beckmann als Landschafter", in Die Kunst und das schöne Heim, issue 1, October 1951, p. 15) And indeed, the bearded men trim the sturdy trunk resting between them with palpable concentration and great routine. Beckmann observes the strenuous, rhythmic activity on a wide clearing under a blue sky. Piled timber waits to be taken away, branches are burned in a blazing fire, the smoke swirls in the deep green forest. In the far right of the picture a woman wearing a headscarf presumably prepares a snack, while a refreshment awaits the hard-working men on a split log in mid foreground. What fascinated Beckmann so much about this motif, which obviously is quite unusual of his work? Is it the lumberjacks, who quietly pull the saw blade back and forth, not too fast, with just the right amount of pressure, tilting the saw and getting stuck is to be avoided at all costs, as it means a loss of time, it is all about the rhythm. Did the artist witness this spectacle on a walk in Bois de Boulogne in Paris with his Pekingese dogs Majong and Chilly and transferred his discoveries into a painting with a mythical appeal? The answer remains a secret.

From the mid-1920s, Max Beckmann frequently visited the French capital and showed increasing interest in avant-garde painting. He established contacts with critics and gallery owners and tried to pursue his artistic career in France, too. Accordingly, his stays are also reflected in Max Beckmann's paintings of the late 1920s and early 1930s. He settled in Paris in 1929 and set up his first studio on Boulevard Brune in the 14th arrondissement. In 1930 he moved to rue des Marronniers in the 16th arrondissement. He decided to spend the months of September to May in Paris and occasionally went back to Frankfurt to spend time with his students at the Städelschule. His efforts to gain recognition in France finally culminated in his first major exhibition at Galerie de la Renaissance from March 16 to April 15, 1931. Earlier assumptions that the "Holzsäger im Wald" were exhibited in the first retrospective at the Paris gallery in the very year they were painted cannot be confirmed, especially because the important show in Paris has been subject of extensive research. (Max Beckmann und Paris, ed. by Tobia Bezzola and Cornelia Homburg, Cologne 1998, p. 189) On the other hand, a painting with a comparable motif and (confusingly) similar title "Waldlandschaft mit Holzfäller" ("Forest Landscape with Woodcutters") (fig.) from 1927 was on display at Galerie de la Renaissance; it was acquired by the French state for the collection of the Musée des Ecoles Etrangères du Jeu de Paume. For a long time it would be the only purchase made by the country that Beckmann loved so much, not only for its art, but also for its savoir vivre. "The Luxembourg paid only 2,500 Fr. for the 'Holzfäller'. But in view of the advertising you had to do it, of course. - Unfortunately, I have to give Flechtheim a different picture, which I really hate to do. - But for the sake of business, in God's name ", Beckmann wrote to his New York dealer I. B. Neumann on May 25, 1931 (quoted from: Max Beckmann Briefe 1925–1937, vol. II, Munich 1994, p. 200).

Our painting, noted in the picture list with "1931 Frankfurt u. Paris Holzsäger im Wald. Frankf. a / M Frau v. Rappop", found first mention in a publication of Alfred Flechtheim's Berlin gallery for the period between March 5 - 24, 1932. An anonymous writer reviewed the exhibition of Max Beckmann and reported: "There is tension, power and a very own expression of a strong personality. Strongly palpable. First, let's mention a painting that signifies a change in the artist's work, the "Waldarbeiter". Beckmann, merging spirit, imagination, reality into one, shows a simple scene of forest workers sawing logs on a clearing. Beckmann paints the emerald background of the forest, he paints ravishing movement and the rhythm of work, even though not near-natural, he renounces any abstraction, any symbolic representation on the overemphasis of the structure, on any overemphasis at all." (Kunstausstellungen in Berlin, in: Der Kunstwanderer year 1931/32, p. 200). Although enthusiastic, the reviewer deciphers the painting only on the surface, while the spiritual processes that Beckmann wants to tell us about without revealing anything go much deeper into realms of depth psychology. "Beckmann remains", to let Franz Roh have a say again, "with the unbroken volume of things" (Franz Roh, op. cit.).

Käthe Rapoport von Porada

Nevertheless, this undoubtedly unusual painting immediately enthused the equally unusual Käthe Rapoport von Porada. She collected Beckmann's works and also traded them. The "Holzsäger im Wald" was also in her possession, it seems likely that she had acquired them from Flechtheim even before the exhibition.
The fashion journalist Käthe von Porada, née Magnus (Berlin 1891 - Antibes 1985), grew up in Berlin, and came into contact with theater- and literary circles, such as Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Gerhart Hauptmann and Arthur Schnitzler as a young woman. In 1911 she married the wealthy Viennese landowner Dr. Alfred Rapoport Edler von Porada and lived with him in Vienna. After they separated, she lived in both Vienna and Frankfurt am Main, where in 1924 she would eventually find an apartment on Untermainkai 21, just opposite from Beckmann's first place in Frankfurt with the Battenbergs, on the other side of the river Main. She wrote fashion reports for the Frankfurter Zeitung and gained access to the circle around the editor Heinrich Simons, which included luminaries like Thomas Mann and Max Beckmann. There are different stories about the first encounter between Beckmann and Porada. According to Porada's memoirs, she was present when Beckmann met his future wife Mathilde von Kaulbach in Vienna at the home of the Motesiczky family. (Marie-Louise von Motesiczky became Beckmann's master student in the mid 1920s.) Käthe von Porada would take on an important role in the artist's life. In 1928 she moved to Paris as a fashion journalist for the Ullstein publishing house and the Frankfurter Zeitung. For Beckmann, who regularly stayed in Paris at that point, she was very helpful: she found an apartment and a studio for his lengthy stays, helped him organize his daily life, and in 1930 introduced him to the influential poet and writer Philippe Soupault, who wrote an essay about Max Beckmann on the occasion of the exhibition at the Galerie de la Renaissance. In times of persecution and exile, von Porada was a reliable, loyal friend to Beckmann and helped him and his wife to prepare their move into exile in Amsterdam in 1937. Together with the American Stephan Lackner, collector, author and friend of the artist, von Porada organized an extensive exhibition of Beckmann's works in Bern in 1938, which was subsequently shown in Winterthur, Zurich and Basel. She was in contact with publishers and art dealers, among them I. B. Neumann in Berlin and Günter Franke in Munich. When a planned Beckmann show at Galerie Alfred Poyet in Paris was canceled for political reasons shortly before its opening in 1939, Porada decided to show his watercolors in her private apartment on Rue de la Pompe. At the outbreak of World War II, she found shelter with friends in Monte Carlo, where she remained until 1946. After a brief return to Paris, she settled in Vence near Nice until her death.

And Käthe von Porada was also a lender for the exhibition "Twentieth Century German Art" at the Burlington in London (fig.). With this exhibition, English, French and German artists and art lovers protested against the defamation of German art by the Nazi regime in Munich in 1937. Influential personalities at the time, such as Herbert Read, writer, philosopher and editor of the Burlington Magazine, the Zurich-born painter and art dealer Irmgard Burchard and the writer, collector and art critic Paul Westheim, who had already emigrated to Paris at that time, were in charge of the exhibition of around 300 works from July 7 to August 27, 1938. About half of the exhibits came from German emigrants and artists defamed as "degenerate" by the National Socialists. In order to avoid putting the artists at risk, mainly loans from museums and private collections were shown. On July 21, 1938, Max Beckmann delivered his famous lecture "Meine Theorie der Malerei". Of the six works by the artist two, namely the "Holzsäger im Wald" and "Hafen von Genua" from 1927 (fig.), were contributed by Käthe von Porada, while three works, including the triptych "Versuchung" came from the collection of Stefan Lackner (fig.). [MvL]


Buyer's premium and taxation for Max Beckmann "Holzsäger im Wald"
This lot can be purchased subject to differential or regular taxation.

Differential taxation:
Hammer price up to 500,000 €: herefrom 32 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 500,000 € is subject to a premium of 27 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 500,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 2,500,000 € is subject to a premium of 22 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 2,500,000 €.
The buyer's premium contains VAT, however, it is not shown.

Regular taxation:
Hammer price up to 500,000 €: herefrom 25 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 500,000 € is subject to a premium of 20% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 500,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 2,500,000 € is subject to a premium of 15% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 2,500,000 €.
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