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Bathers

Artist
Erich Heckel, German, 1883–1970
Date
1912–13
Material
Oil and encaustic on canvas
Made in
Berlin, Berlin state, Germany, Europe
Classification
Paintings
Current Location
On View, Gallery 242
Dimensions
33 x 37 7/8 in. (83.8 x 96.2 cm)
Credit Line
Bequest of Morton D. May
Rights
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Object Number
892:1983
NOTES
Erich Heckel’s aerial view of bathers captures life at a lakeside retreat in northern Germany. Heckel and other members of the artist group Die Brücke (The Bridge) visited such retreats to paint nude models outdoors and to escape the pressures of early 20th-century urban life. They were not alone. Many Germans practiced nude bathing as part of Lebensreform (Life Reform), a back-to-nature movement that advocated nudity outdoors to improve mental and physical health.
by 1939 - 1951
New Art Circle (J. B. Neumann), New York, NY, USA [1]

1951 - 1983
Morton D. May (1914-1983), St. Louis, MO, purchased from New Art Circle [2]

1983 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, bequest of Morton D. May [3]


Notes:
[1] This painting was lent by Neumann to a 1939 exhibition ["Contemporary German Art." Boston, Massachusetts: Institute of Modern Art, November 2 - December 9, 1939]. In 1940 Neumann put the painting up for auction at the Plaza Art Galleries ["A Selection of Modern Art, European and American, from J. B. Neumann and others." Plaza Art Galleries, New York, May 5, 1940, lot no. 99]. The picture most likely did not sell at this time, as it was included in a 1941 exhibition, lent by J. B. Neumann ["Expressionism." Cincinnati Art Museum, April 20 - May 20, 1941, p. 9]. Neumann was also the lender of this painting to a 1946-1947 exhibition ["Landscapes: Real and Imaginary." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1946, cat. 12; information provided by Michelle Harvey, Archivist, The Museum of Modern Art, letter dated March 3, 2004, SLAM document files].

[2] Per invoice from New Art Circle dated January 10, 1951, and record sheets kept by Morton D. May [May Archives, Saint Louis Art Museum and SLAM document files].

[3] Last Will and Testament of M. D. May dated June 11, 1982 [May Archives, Saint Louis Art Museum]. Minutes of the Acquisitions and Loans Committee of Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, September 20, 1983.
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