The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
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
Southgate MT. Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery. JAMA. 2002;287(6):689. doi:10.1001/jama.287.6.689
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