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Christ and the Sinner

Max Beckmann, German, 1884–1950
Oil on canvas
Made in
Frankfurt am Main, Hessen, Western Europe, Germany, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 244
58 3/4 x 49 7/8 in. (149.2 x 126.7 cm)
framed: 74 1/4 x 65 5/8 x 4 1/2 in. (188.6 x 166.7 x 11.4 cm)
Credit Line
Bequest of Curt Valentin
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Object Number
In this unconventional depiction, Jesus stops an angry mob from stoning a woman to death. The biblical story’s message of non-violence expresses Max Beckmann’s pacifism after his wartime service. Beckmann volunteered as a medical orderly during the war, but constant exposure to dead and dying soldiers traumatized him. This is one of the first paintings he made after his discharge in 1917. Twenty years later, "Christ and the Sinner" appeared in the infamous "Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art)" show, a propaganda exhibition organized by the Nazi government to indoctrinate Germans against Expressionist and abstract art.
Max Beckmann (1884-1950), Frankfurt am Main, Germany [1]

1919 - 1937
Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany, purchased from the artist [2]

1937/07/08 -
German National Socialist (Nazi) government, confiscated as "degenerate" from the Kunsthalle Mannheim, July 8, 1937 [3]

c.1938 - 1955
Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), New York, NY, USA [4]

1955 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, bequest of Curt Valentin [5]

The main source for this provenance is Göpel's catalogue raisonné, cat. no. 197 [Göpel, Erhard and Barbara Göpel. "Max Beckmann: Katalog der Gemälde." Bern: Kornfeld & Cie., 1976]. Exceptions and other supporting documents are noted.

[1] Max Beckmann kept lists of most of his paintings which often included the dates that they were worked on and notes on who purchased them. This painting appears on Beckmann's list as number 1917:161/10. He also added to this list that the painting was purchased by the Kunsthalle Mannheim.

[2] This painting was inventory no. 482.

[3] The painting was seized on July 8, 1937 as part of the National Socialist campaign against so-called degenerate art. It was assigned inventory number 15936, and exhibited in the first room at the "Degenerate Art" exhibition in Munich in 1937 [Barron, Stephanie, ed. "'Degenerate Art': The Fate of the Avant-garde in Nazi Germany." Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1991].

[4] This painting was lent by Buchholz Gallery to a 1941 exhibition ["Expressionism" Cincinnati Modern Art Society, Cincinnati Art Museum, April 20 - May 20, 1941].

[5] Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, April 8, 1955.
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