Museum acquires Max Beckmann painting

Museum acquires Max Beckmann painting following a successful fundraising campaign

On display from 17 January 2009

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is delighted to announce the acquisition of a monumental family portrait by Max Beckmann. This Expressionist painting from 1944 is a marvellous complement to the museum’s collection of classical modernism. The museum already owned several prints by Beckmann, but no paintings.
The museum has acquired the portrait of the Lütjens family from a private collection. The museum launched a fundraising campaign to acquire this work at the beginning of 2008. The support of grant-giving bodies, sponsors and individual donors is indispensable in acquiring such a special and costly work of art.

The famous German painter Max Beckmann made this family portrait in Amsterdam in 1944. When the Nazis declared his work ‘entartet’ (degenerate) in 1937, Beckmann fled to the Netherlands. He led an isolated, but extremely productive life in Amsterdam. Beckmann sought refuge several times during the war in the home of the art dealer Helmuth Lütjens and regularly gave him paintings to take care of. This relationship led to this painting of Lütjens with his wife Nelly and their daughter Annemarie. Lütjens was so impressed with the result that he acquired the painting for his private collection.
The monumental portrait is one of the few canvases from Beckmann’s exile period (1937-1947) that have remained in the Netherlands. It was included in the major survey of Beckmann’s works from this period at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and in Munich in 2007.

A unique construction
The acquisition is due, in the first instance, to the Lütjens family heirs’ wish to retain this painting for the nation. The family has selected Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen as the permanent home for the painting. It is the joint property of Rotterdam Municipal Council and the Dutch State.
Through the waiving of inheritance tax and an extremely generous gesture from the heirs, the painting has come within the museum’s financial grasp. The acquisition has been made possible through a grant from the Rembrandt Society. This contribution has been augmented by a gift from Marlene Dumas, a fund established via the Rembrandt Society with the specific intention of acquiring a work by Beckmann for the Netherlands. Further contributions came from the Nationaal Fonds Kunstbezit, the BankGiro Loterij, the VSBfonds, the Mondriaan Foundation, the Stichting Bevordering van Volkskracht, the G.Ph. Verhagen-Stichting and the Familiestichting Nolst Trenité.

Official transfer
The official transfer of ownership took place on 10 January 2009 when Mayor Aboutaleb received the painting on behalf of the Municipality of Rotterdam and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. The painting can be seen from 17 January as part of the museum’s new displays, The Collection Two, which celebrates the museum’s 160th anniversary.