We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Mother and daughter



Max Beckmann


12 Feb 1884 – 27 Dec 1950

  • Details

    Other Titles
    Old woman in ermine
    Old lady with daughter
    Alternative title
    Alte dame mit Tochter
    Place where the work was made
    Amsterdam The Netherlands
    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".

    Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation 1987
    South Building, ground level, 20th-century galleries
    Accession number
    © Max Beckmann/Bild-Kunst. Licensed by Copyright Agency

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Max Beckmann

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Max Beckmann painted enigmatic, unsettling works often suggestive of a doomed world. His early academic painting style was transformed following his experiences as a medical orderly in the First World War. By the 1930s, as the National Socialists assumed power in Germany, Beckmann’s figures had become distorted and disturbed. He left Germany permanently in 1937 after his works were included in the 'Degenerate Art' exhibition staged by the Nazis as an attack on contemporary culture.

    'Mother and daughter' reflects the anxieties of this epoch. The figures are confined, the porthole suggesting they are below deck, in a cabin at sea. Through his experience of escaping Nazi terror, Beckmann wrote of the metaphors of such journeys as, ‘Sailing ad infinitum with no foothold, no objective’. The old woman’s anguished features may refer to the horrors of Nazi death camps. Her presence signals a haunted past and embodies tragic warning. The young figure, uneasy, senses this.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 11 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 21 publications

  • Provenance

    Max Beckmann, New York/New York/United States of America

    Buchholz Gallery Curt Valentin, 04 Feb 1947-1955, New York/New York/United States of America, with Buchholz Gallery 1947-1955

    Mathilde Quappi Beckmann, 27 Dec 1950-1967, New York/New York/United States of America, by descent

    Catherine Viviano Gallery, 1955-1967, New York/New York/United States of America, with Catherine Viviano Gallery 1955 - approx. 1967; in commission

    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, Oct 1981-1985, New York/New York/United States of America, by Oct 1981; in commission. 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

Other works by Max Beckmann