Jean-Jacques de Boissieu, ‘Jean-Jacques de Boissieu, Portrait de l'auteur’, 1796, Christie's

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF DR HEINRICH BECKER, BIELEFELD (lots 40, 66-78)

A very good impression of the rare fourth state (of six), before the portrait of Boissieu's wife was changed to a landscape, with narrow margins, with some minor stains in the margins, generally in good condition
Plate 376 x 292 mm., Sheet 385 x 300 mm.

From the Catalogue:
A high-school teacher by training and profession, Heinrich Becker had a passion for modern art and shortly after settling in Bielefeld in 1908, he began to organise art exhibitions in his spare time. In 1927, the Städtisches Kunsthaus Bielefeld was established and Becker served as honorary director and curated many art exhibitions of leading contemporary artists, including Emil Nolde, Käthe Kollwitz, Franz Marc and Edvard Munch.

Unfortunately in 1933 with the rise of the local Nazi administration, Dr Becker was forced to step down from his position at the Kunsthaus. Most of the art promoted by Becker was now considered ‘degenerate’ and many of his acquisitions were confiscated and sold off or purposefully destroyed. After the end of the second world war Becker was reinstated as director, which he continued to lead until his retirement in 1954. In recognition of his enormous contribution to art and culture, he was honoured with the German Order of Merit in 1961. He died in 1972; his collection has since remained in the family for three generations.

Promoting art and artists was a vocation Becker pursued resolutely and selflessly for all his life, and he befriended many of the artists that he worked with. The numerous letters of correspondence between Becker and his artist friends, for example in the archives of the Munchmuseet in Oslo and the Käthe Kollwitz Museum in Cologne, bear testament to this. Aside from his acquisitions for the Kunsthaus Bielefeld, Becker also built an impressive personal collection, in particular of graphic works, which included many self-portraits of these new friends. Becker forged a particularly close friendship with Edvard Munch, whose Self-Portrait with Hat I of 1927 was offered in these rooms in September 2017 and sold for £18,750, setting a new record price for the subject at auction.

The following group of works, all well kept by subsequent generations, include a rare self-portrait of Conrad Felixmüller (lot 69) and a striking double-portrait of Felixmüller with his wife Londa (lot 70). The Felixmüllers were also friends of Heinrich Becker and his wife, as the photograph of both families taking during a ramble in the countryside testifies. The collection comprises other self-portraits by Max Beckmann, Lovis Corinth and Emil Nolde, Otto Mueller’s important Selbstbildnis mit Modell und Maske (lot 74), as well as a rare self-portrait by Käthe Kollwitz (lot 72), with whom he maintained an increasingly frank and cordial correspondence from 1929 to 1944: Sitzende Frau mit Umschlagtuch. The group is rounded off with a very rare impression of Nolde’s woodcut Mann und junges Mädchen (lot 78).
—Courtesy of Christie's

Roux, Perez 102

Ernst Friedrich Oppermann (1827-1888), Berlin (Lugt 887), his Sale on 15 May 1882, Berlin, directed by Amsler & Ruthardt, Lot 142.
Valentin Weisbach (1843-1899), Berlin (Lugt 2539b).
Dr. Heinrich Becker (1881-1972), Bielefeld; then by descent to the present owners.

About Jean-Jacques de Boissieu