Max BeckmannGerman (Leipzig, Germany, 1884 - 1950, New York City, New York)
Frau bei der Toilette mit roten und weissen Lilien (Woman at Her Toilette with Red and White Lilies)
Beckmann painted this calm image of a woman behind a large spray of red and white lilies the year after the Nazis forced him to flee Germany for Amsterdam. Like Germany's other modern artists, he had seen his work held up to public ridicule as "degenerate" and had lost a distinguished teaching appointment after Adolf Hitler came to power. Yet the discord and anxiety registered in many of Beckmann's other paintings from this time seem less evident in this sensual view.
Here, Beckmann observes a woman in a dark corset washing her hands, apparently unaware of the artist's gaze. Her jewelry and costume, and the lavish flowers, suggest that she is a member of the sophisticated world of artists, intellectuals, and affluent patrons often painted by Beckmann, but it is difficult to say for certain. Although he was certainly in the midst of personal and professional upheaval when he made this work, Beckmann chose to create an image of private pleasure and beauty.