Max Beckmann’s painting Apollo (1942) acquired by Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Max Beckmann's painting <em>Apollo</em> (1942) acquired by Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam 1

The Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust is delighted to announce the acquisition of the Max Beckmann painting formerly belonging to  Marie-Louise by the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, as the result of a part sale and part gift by the Trust. The purchase was supported by funding in the Netherlands from the Rembrandt Association and the Foundation for the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen.

Max Beckmann became a close friend and mentor of Marie-Louise’s from 1920 onwards, meeting his second wife Mathilde von Kaulbach (‘Quappi’) at the Motesiczkys’ apartment in Vienna. When the Beckmanns left Germany for Amsterdam in 1937 Marie-Louise did her best to assist them, even after the German occupation of the Netherlands in 1940, through her aunt Ilse Leembruggen who lived in the Hague. She saw the Beckmanns in 1938 after leaving Vienna following the Anschluss and had her first solo exhibition in the Hague in January 1939. Marie-Louise returned in 1947 just before Max and Quappi went to the United States. Apollo, which Beckmann dedicated to his wife, was bequeathed by Quappi to Marie-Louise in 1986. 

In September 1941 Beckmann spent a few days in the town of Valkenburg where he visited the Gemeentegrot (municipal caves), which housed a facility that belonged to the champagne house Piper Heidsieck. When he entered this space he found approximately four metre-high replicas of champagne bottles installed alongside built-in walls, with a relief and a fountain. This provided the inspiration for the setting for his painting Apollo which he substantially made in December 1941, completing it in January 1942. The caves were used by the Resistance in Valkenburg during the War, the population taking refuge there in September 1944 immediately prior to the Allied Liberation.

Although Beckmann spent ten years of his life in the Netherlands, hitherto there have been just five paintings by him in Dutch museums, including a portrait of the Lüjtens family from 1944 that was acquired by the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in 2008. In 2017 the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust made a gift of eleven of Marie-Louise’s paintings and nine works on paper to the Boijmans in recognition of their enthusiasm for her work and her close ties to Holland. Therefore it seemed an ideal context for the painting by Beckmann which speaks of his time in the Netherlands and of Marie-Louise’s friendship with him and Quappi, with whom she is shown bottom right in the right hand panel of one of Beckmann’s masterpieces, the triptych Actors (1941-42, Harvard University Art Museums).

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