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Tuesday, 9 October, 2001, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
Anti-Nazi painting 'could fetch 8m'
Matrose by Max Beckmann
Beckmann was a leading Expressionist painter
A German expressionist work, painted when the artist was on the run from the Nazis, is up for auction in London on Thursday.

Max Beckmann's Matrose, or Sailor, is expected to fetch about 8m.


It's a piece of history

Christie's
It was painted in the Netherlands in the late 1930s - when the painter had fled Germany after being threatened with imprisonment or sterilisation.

A private collection of drawings by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, with an estimated value of 1m, is also in the Christie's sale.

'Political painting'

A Christie's spokeswoman said the Beckmann work could fetch a high price because of the period in which it was painted.

"Beckmann's work does command a lot at auction and it is a fantastic example of his work, painted at a time when there was a lot going on in the world.

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"It's a piece of history - it's a very political painting and gives an idea of how angry he was," she said.

Beckmann was born in Leipzig in 1884, and moved to Berlin before World War I to become a member of the Berlin Secession group, then an important voice in modern German painting.

'Expressionist'

By the mid-1920s, Beckmann had become one of Germany's foremost painters and his work was hailed as a leading example of Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) school.

"Beckmann was one of the leading German expressionist painters," said the Christie's spokeswoman.

"The main features are exaggeration and distortions of line and colour - a deliberate abandonment of impressionism, of soft colours and lighting for harsh lines and colours for a much more emotional impact."

But with the rise of the Nazis, Beckmann's art was methodically removed from German museums, and by 1937, almost 600 of his works had been confiscated.

In July 1937, he fled with his wife to live with her sister in Amsterdam, never to return again. He died in 1950.

See also:

26 Jun 01 | Arts
Monet art sale raises millions
21 Dec 00 | Europe
Berlin art trove comes home
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