Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Western art

View More:


Mother and daughter



Max Beckmann


12 Feb 1884 - 27 Dec 1950


Although associated with German expressionism and the New Objectivity movement, Max Beckmann occupies his own category as a moral fabulist. His proclivity was for symbolic narratives, often large in scale and complex in iconography, that highlight the tragicomic fate of humanity. The triptych, with its sacred associations, was the format he favoured for important projects, producing a significant number of them at the time of his forced flight from Nazism in 1937. Beckmann's portraits, still-life subjects, nudes and smaller genre pieces are equally invested with a sense of the sacramental. Ever the sceptical recorder of the follies of the world, even his most affectionate works have a cynical edge. 'Mother and daughter' [invested with Beckham's sense of the sacramental]: might be read as a prostitute presented for our inspection by the madam of the brothel. Or perhaps the older woman signifies exhausted Europe, counterpoised with the vital New World of America. Beckmann relocated to the United States in 1947 after a decade spent in Holland.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.


Other Titles

Old woman in ermine

Old lady with daughter

Alternative title

Alte dame mit Tochter



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


150.5 x 80.5 cm stretcher; 172.4 x 102.9 x 6.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.c., black oil "Beckmann / ... 46".


Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Purchase 1987

Accession number


Artist information

Max Beckmann

Works in the collection


Shown in 6 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Mathilde Quappi Beckmann, 1950-1967?, New York/New York/United States of America

Catherine Viviano Gallery, 1967, New York/New York/United States of America, with Catherine Viviano Gallery 1967. Exhibited in 'Twelve paintings of women by Max Beckmann' 7 Feb - 4 Mar 1967, Catherine Viviano Gallery handled the estate of Max Beckmann.

Private Collection, 1976, New York/New York/United States of America, Listed in 'Max Beckmann: Katalog der Gemälde' Band I, 1976, pg. 437, as New York, Privatbesitz

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, circa 1985, New York/New York/United States of America, Purchased by Galerie Beyeler from Grace Borgenicht Gallery 1985

Galerie Beyeler, 1985-01 May 1987, Basel/Switzerland, Purchased by the AGNSW from Galerie Beyeler 1987. Galerie Beyeler stock no. 10714

Referenced in 17 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Great gifts, great patrons: an exhibition celebrating private patronage of the Gallery, Sydney, 1994, (colour illus.). no catalogue numbers

Max Beckmann, Diary, Unknown, 1946. 1946: 30 April, 7 May, 30 July, 10 August, 11 September, 3 October, 14 November

Peter Beckmann and Peter Selz, Max Beckmann. Sichtbares und Unsichtbares, Stuttgart, 1965, 101 (colour illus.).

Buchholz Gallery Curt Valentin, Beckmann, New York, 1947, (illus.).

Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Annual Report 1997, Sydney, 1997, 12 (colour illus.).

Catherine Viviano Gallery, Twelve paintings of women by Max Beckmann, New York, 1967, (illus.). 8

Renee Free, Look, 'Acquisitions: Old Woman in Ermine', Heidelberg, Oct 1987, 9 (colour illus.).

Renée Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'European', pg. 36-56, Sydney, 1988, 52 (colour illus.).

Renée Free, AGNSW Collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg. 108-172, Sydney, 1994, 168 (colour illus.).

Galerie Beyeler, aus privaten Sammlungen, Basel, 1986, (colour illus.). 4

Erhard Göpel and Barbara Göpel, Max Beckmann: Katalog der Gemälde, Band I, Bern, 1976, 437. 730

Erhard Göpel and Barbara Göpel, Max Beckmann: Katalog der Gemälde, Band II, Bern, 1976, Tafel 268 (illus.). 730

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 62 (colour illus.).

Simon Kent, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Gallery boss jumps to Old Woman's defence', Sydney, 25 Aug 1987, 7 (illus).

Fritz Neugass, Die Weltkunst, article, Munich, 1967, 590.

Peter Selz, Seven decades 1895-1965: crosscurrents in modern art, California, 1966, (illus.). 263

Michael Wardell, Look, 'Foundation building', pg.14-17, Sydney, Sep 2004, 15.