The King – (Max Beckmann) Previous Next


Style: Expressionism

Topic: Men Royalty Royalty

Date: 1937

Size: 135 x 100 cm

Museum: Saint Louis Art Museum (United States)

Technique: Oil On Canvas

The king's features are akin to Beckmann's own, although no formal self-portrait may have been intended. The collar with its triangular flaps has the shape the artist usually assigned to clown and harlequin costumes, so we may suspect that the ominous scene is really just part of a play. Beckmann worked on The King for a long time. He submitted the artwork to the Carnegie International, where it was exhibited in the European section, in San Francisco, in 1934-35, and illustrated in the Carnegie catalogue. The painting did not win a prize. Disappointed, Beckmann changed the first version considerably and finally signed it in Amsterdam in 1937. This history of the painting is important because some commentators have seen allusions to the "despot" of the day and claim that this was the first painting that Beckmann created in exile. But the resemblance to Beckmann himself precludes any reference to the actual tyrant. No-this is the inner drama of a proud, powerful, benign individual.


Max Beckmann


Click here to download

Max Beckmann – Most viewed artworks