1921 Max Beckmann "Das Karussell" Drypoint
When you brought this in today, my eyes popped and my heart sank simultaneously. My eyes popped because you brought in a work by... If the chips were down and I had to name my favorite all-time artist, and that's never an easy thing to do, it would be this chap here. My heart sank because you seem to have been in the wrong line. I was appraising paintings today, and here you are with a print. So I popped over to see my colleagues in the print table and gently persuaded them that this is one that perhaps I should do. Who's the artist, do you know?
This is Max Beckmann.
Max Beckmann, yes. What can you tell me about this piece?
Well, my first wife, who died at a very young age, studied art history in college. She had a very good eye for art. And we picked this up almost 30 years ago in a business bankruptcy proceeding. We both liked it.
What would you have paid for it back then, do you think?
If I had a guess, I would say about $200.
Okay. This is a print, as I mentioned. This is what's called a drypoint. One of the things that is very characteristic of a drypoint etching is this lovely velvety dark line that you get. And this is caused by when the etcher is drawing into the copper plate, it throws up what we call a burr, which is a displaced metal. When you come to ink the plate, some of the ink gets trapped in that burr, and so you get a slightly fuzzy and very characteristic line. This has it in spades. So what about Max Beckmann? German artist, born in Leipzig, served in the First World War. The symbolism here is very typical of Beckmann, and he would frequently use the circus or the theater or the stage as metaphors for life. This particular print is from a series of ten prints that comprise a portfolio called Die Jahrmarkt, which is the annual market. And this specific print is "The Carousel" It's inscribed down here "The Carousel." In addition to that, we can also see-- and I won't try and pronounce it in German-- this means "trial proof." So the portfolio itself came in different editions. There were 75 done in Japan paper, 125 on wove, and about three known trial proofs. This may be one of them or it may be extra to those trial proofs. A trial proof being a print that the artist did in advance of the final run. And we can see down at the bottom right here he has signed it Beckmann and also dated it 1921. The series wasn't published until the following year, in 1922. He was known as one of the degenerate artists. Hitler was not a fan of modern art. And so he was dismissed from his post in Frankfurt as a teacher. He ended up in Amsterdam, and at that time he was doing his great series of nine triptychs, which I happen to think are amongst the major achievements in 20th century art. So eventually he ended up in the United States and he died in New York. His market has been developing over the years, great demand. He's not as well known as a lot of other modern artists, but he should be, in my view. I would say conservatively at auction, I would place an estimate of $5,000 to $8,000.
That's great. Thank you so much for bringing it in. Really made my day. I appreciate it, thank you.
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