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Landscape with Cows, Sailboat, and Painted-in Figures

August Macke, German, 1887–1914
Oil on canvas
Made in
Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 214
20 1/4 × 20 1/4 in. (51.4 × 51.4 cm)
framed: 27 3/16 × 27 1/8 × 1 7/16 in. (69.1 × 68.9 × 3.7 cm)
Credit Line
Bequest of Morton D. May
Public Domain
Object Number
A jumble of upside-down and sideways figures disrupts an otherwise pastoral scene of cows grazing in front of a distant lake. This is the only work by August Macke with rotated figures, which makes them a mystery. An X-ray of the painting shows the shadowy traces of an earlier composition. The work began as a conventional lake scene, but only two sailboats survive from this earlier state. Macke never had a chance to continue his experiment because he died two months later in World War I (1914–1918).
1914 - 1958
August Macke (1887-1914); August Macke Estate [1]

1958/11/21 - 1983
Morton D. May (1914-1983), St. Louis, MO, USA, purchased at the 32nd auction "Moderne Kunst," Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett (Roman Norbert Ketterer), Stuttgart, Germany, November 21-22, 1958, lot no. 609 [2]

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

[1] August Macke died in World War I in 1914. In the 1958 Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett auction catalog, the painting is listed as being in the Macke estate. There is also a stamp on the painting's original frame for the August Macke Estate. August Macke had two sons, Walter (1910 -1927) and Wolfgang (1913-1975). In a letter to Morton D. May dated November 5, 1958, Erhard Göpel states: "I saw this picture in the home of the son of Macke, where I looked for a picture by his father for you. ... the son gave it in the sale." This presumably refers to Wolfgang Macke, as Walter was already deceased at this time [May Archives, Saint Louis Art Museum].

[2] This transaction is well documented in the Morton D. May Archives. Morton D. May retained Erhard Göpel to represent him at the Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett auction. Göpel provided advice to May about what to purchase but the actual bid was placed by Klipstein & Kornfeld (formerly Gutekunst & Klipstein) from Bern, Switzerland, who acted as May's agent and bid for him at auction. The invoice from Klipstein & Kornfeld is dated December 9, 1958 [May Archives, Saint Louis Art Museum].

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