“Often, if he was doing a portrait of me, I would have a feeling that Max was staring at me intently, drilling into me with his eyes, and sometimes it made me nervous and embarrassed. If he noticed, he would quickly say: ‘Please, carry on with whatever you were doing and forget that I’m here. I am watching you closely because I have just started another portrait of you,” recalls Mathilde Beckmann, known as “Quappi”, in her memoirs. Max Beckmann was married twice, to Minna Beckmann-Tube and to Quappi, and he liked his wives to sit for him. “My God, what wonderful portraits I shall make of you,” he raved in an early letter to Quappi, who married him in 1925 after his divorce from Minna.

Beckmann painted delightful portraits of other women too, among them patrons of his art. These included the fashion journalist Käthe von Porada. She helped the artist out in Frankfurt and during his trips to Paris, and she was known and feared for her lavish generosity. Apparently she presented Beckmann with an extravagant yellow Opel as a wedding gift. The parrot so lovingly fed by Quappi in this portrait (1936) was one of Käthe’s Christmas presents.

Lilly von Schnitzler was a collector who purchased many of Beckmann’s works and was his avid champion, even during the Frankfurt years: “One day I told my husband he need never worry about what to give me for my birthday or for Christmas: a painting by Max Beckmann would do.” Lilly remained loyal to him in Berlin after Beckmann’s works were declared “degenerate” by the Nazi dictators in 1933. She continued to buy his works and hang them in her lounge, even though the Schnitzlers frequently played host to high-ranking members of the new government. Beckmann admired Lilly’s courage and was grateful for her support. “But apart from that, her mixture of enthusiasm for the regime and for me is hard to bear,” he confessed in a letter.

The exhibition Max Beckmann and Berlin can be seen at the Berlinische Galerie until 15 February, along with his painting “The Organ-Grinder” (1935). It hung in Lilly von Schnitzler’s living room but was quickly hidden, whenever necessary, behind a pale green silk curtain.

Guided tour in German "Max Beckmann und die Liebe":
19.12., 02.01., 16:30 Uhr – 17:30 Uhr

More informationen here.

Read more stories about Max Beckmann here.


Berlinische Galerie

Landesmuseum für Moderne
Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur
Stiftung Öffentlichen Rechts

Alte Jakobstraße 124–128
10969 Berlin Germany


Tel +49 (0)30-789 02-600
Fax +49 (0)30-789 02-700

Opening hours

Wednesday–Monday 10 am–6 pm

Closed on 24.12. and 31.12.

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PDF Floor Plan