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The Cover
February 13, 2002

Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2002;287(6):689. doi:10.1001/jama.287.6.689

Even before the turn of the century, Max Beckmann (1884-1950) was one of Germany's most promising young artists. He was precocious: his first major painting was Self-portrait With Soap Bubbles, completed when he was just 14 years old. In retrospect—considering the two world wars that would mark his life—the vanitas theme seems prescient, although the symbolism could just as well have been inspired by a private adolescent angst. Whatever the case, Max Beckmann would leave his mark on 20th-century painting. Born in Leipzig, he began his studies at the art academy in Weimar when he was 16. Three years later he was in Paris, studying with Julius Meier-Graefe and three years after that, in 1906, he had his first exhibit, at the Berlin Secession. That was also the year of his first marriage, to Minna Tube (whom he would divorce some 20 years later to marry Mathilde von Kaulbach). He was 22. Europe was heady with artistic ferment. He drank in the work of such moderns as Cézanne, van Gogh, Munch, and Lovis Corinth; he went to Florence and studied Michelangelo, Rubens, and Rembrandt; he looked at the Romantics, principally Delacroix and Gericault. But he was especially taken with Impressionism, Symbolism, and the work of Luca Signorelli.