Museum Folkwang Collection Online
Perseus. Triptychon
  • Max Beckmann
  • Perseus. Triptychon, 1941

  • Perseus. Triptych
  • Oil on canvas
  • image 150,5 x 55,5 cm (right panel)
  • Donated by Ernst Henke in 1956
  • Inv. G 261
  • On view
  • CommentaryPerseus, a son of Zeus, is a figure of antique mythology whose heroics have been portrayed by numerous artists up into modern times; the most well-known episode is the liberation of Princess Andromeda. The wife of King Cepheus boasted of being prettier than the nymphs of the sea, thus offending Poseidon, the god of the sea. To pacify his anger, Cepheus had to sacrifice his daughter, Andromeda. Promising to marry her, Perseus saved her from certain death at the last minute.
    In the central panel, Beckmann shows the moment of liberation; to the left the imminent wedding is shown and to the right, the myth is related to the artist's life, whose existence was threatened by Germany's invasion of Holland. The painting has a theme the artist's fear of suffering persecution and lack of freedom even his freely chosen exile. Works of world literature, books on world religions, on mythology, theosophy, older and contemporary mysticism were Beckmann's preferred sources from very early on, which he, however, interpreted in his pictures quite unconventionally, often enriching them with contemporary references. This is also true of this work, which belongs to a group of ten triptychs painted between 1937 and 1950 and number among Beckmann's most important works.
  • Provenance1941–1943: im Besitz des Künstlers, Amsterdam | 1943–1956: Günther Franke (1900–1976), München | 1956–heute: Museum Folkwang, Essen

    Provenienz unbelastet

    Die Untersuchung erfolgte im Rahmen des vom Deutschen Zentrum Kulturgutverluste geförderten Projekts zur Bestandsprüfung (01.10.2019–30.09.2020).
  • Obj_Id: 3,247
  • Obj_Internet_S: ja
  • Obj_Ownership_S (Verantw):Painting, Sculpture, Media Art
  • Obj_SpareNField01_N (Verantw):
  • Obj_Creditline_S: Museum Folkwang, Essen, Gemäldesammlung
  • Obj_Title1_S: Perseus. Triptychon
  • Obj_Title2_S: Perseus. Triptych
  • Obj_PartDescription_S (Titelerg):
  • Obj_SpareMField01_M (Alle Titel): Perseus. Triptychon Perseus. Triptych
  • Obj_Dating_S: 1941
  • Jahr von: 1,941
  • Jahr bis: 1,941
  • Obj_IdentNr_S: G 261
  • Obj_IdentNrSort_S: G 0261
  • Obj_Classification_S (Objtyp): Painting
  • Obj_Crate_S: image 150,5 x 55,5 cm (right panel)
  • Obj_Material_S: Oil on canvas
  • Obj_Technique_S:
  • Obj_SpareSField01_S (Mat./Tech.): Oil on canvas
  • Obj_AccNote_S (Erwerb): Donated by Ernst Henke in 1956
  • Obj_PermanentLocation_S (Standort): On view
  • Obj_Condition1_S (Druckerei):
  • Obj_Condition2_S (Auflage):
  • Obj_Subtype_S (Genre):
  • Obj_Rights_S:
Commentary
Artists
Provenance

Perseus, a son of Zeus, is a figure of antique mythology whose heroics have been portrayed by numerous artists up into modern times; the most well-known episode is the liberation of Princess Andromeda. The wife of King Cepheus boasted of being prettier than the nymphs of the sea, thus offending Poseidon, the god of the sea. To pacify his anger, Cepheus had to sacrifice his daughter, Andromeda. Promising to marry her, Perseus saved her from certain death at the last minute.
In the central panel, Beckmann shows the moment of liberation; to the left the imminent wedding is shown and to the right, the myth is related to the artist's life, whose existence was threatened by Germany's invasion of Holland. The painting has a theme the artist's fear of suffering persecution and lack of freedom even his freely chosen exile. Works of world literature, books on world religions, on mythology, theosophy, older and contemporary mysticism were Beckmann's preferred sources from very early on, which he, however, interpreted in his pictures quite unconventionally, often enriching them with contemporary references. This is also true of this work, which belongs to a group of ten triptychs painted between 1937 and 1950 and number among Beckmann's most important works.