Indiana University Indiana University IU

Browse the collection

The Snake King and the Stagbeetle Queen

Artist Max Beckmann (German, 1884–1950)
Title The Snake King and the Stagbeetle Queen (Schlauenkönig und Hirschkäferbraut)
Date 1933
Medium Watercolor, black ink, and and charcoal on paper
Dimensions Image: 24 5/8 × 19 7/16 in. (62.5 × 49.4 cm)
Sheet: 24 5/8 × 19 7/16 in. (62.5 × 49.4 cm)
Framed: 29 13/16 × 24 3/4 × 1 in. (75.7 × 62.9 × 2.5 cm)
Credit Line Bernhard and Cola Heiden Collection, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 2000.135

Share this artwork!

About this Work

An important figure in German art by the time he was twenty-five, Max Beckmann initially opposed the spiritual abstracting tendencies of his contemporaries, Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. In favor of contemporary subjects, "objectively" seen, Beckmann held to the representation of objects while rejecting conventional perspective and proportion.
Appointed professor at the State Art Institute in Frankfurt in 1925, Beckmann as declared "degenerate" by the Nazis in 1933 and dismissed from his post. The following year, he presented this watercolor to Bernhard and Cola Heiden as a wedding present. A sly and sexy comment on marriage, Beckmann's image also includes a kinky figure that appears repeatedly in his work as a surrogate for the painter himself.

2000, Bequest to the Indiana University Art Museum from Bernhard Heiden, Bloomington, IN

1934–2000, Collection of Bernhard Heiden (1910–2000) and Cola Heiden (1910–1999), Bloomington, IN (gift of the artist) [1]

1933–1934, Possession of the artist [2]


[1] Bernhard Heiden (né Levi) and his wife Cola (née de Joncheere) Heiden emigrated to the United States in 1935 to escape persecution under the Third Reich’s antisemitic laws. They settled in Bloomington in 1946, where Bernhard was a member of the music school faculty until his retirement in 1981 (per museum donor files). Although the Heidens inherited much of their art collection from Bernhard’s parents, the present painting was Beckmann’s wedding gift to Bernhard and Cola, whom he had first befriended when all three were still living in Germany (Bernhard Heiden in conversation with Kathleen Foster, former Indiana University Art Museum curator of Western art after 1800, on November 15, 1999; transcript in museum files).

[2] Beckmann completed the painting in 1933 and had it in his possession until the Heidens married the following year (Max Beckmann: The Watercolors and Pastels, cat. rais., Frankfurt: Schirm Kunsthalle, 2006, cat. no. 60).

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

October 6–December 23, 2012, “Pioneers and Exiles: German Expressionism at the Indiana University Art Museum,” Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN (cat. no. 39)

March 3–September 17, 2006, “Max Beckmann: The Watercolors and Pastels,” Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, March 3–May 28, 2006; Fundación del Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, June 26–September 17, 2006 (cat. no. 60)

September 17–December 10, 2000, “A Legacy of German Expressionism – Gifts from Bernhard and Cola Heiden,” Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN

September 25, 1998–May 9, 1999, “Max Beckmann and Paris,” Kunsthaus Zürich, September 25, 1998–January 3, 1999; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, February 6–May 9, 1999 (cat. no. 61; wrong dimensions)

September 7, 1984-February 3, 1985, “Max Beckmann: Retrospective,” Haus der Kunst, Munich, February 25–April 23, 1984; Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany, May 18–July 29, 1984; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, September 7–November 4, 1984; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, December 9, 1984–February 3, 1985 (cat. no. 180)

October 16, 1977–May 21, 1978, “Max Beckmann: Aquarelle und Zeichnungen 1903 bis 1950,” Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany, October 16–December 11, 1977; Kunsthalle Tübingen, Germany, January 7–February 26, 1978; Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, March 18-May 21, 1978 (cat. no. 142)

May 11–June 15, 1974, “18th–20th Century Drawings from Bloomington Collections,” Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN

October 1–22, 1958, “German Art in Our Time,” Indiana University Art Center Gallery, Bloomington, IN (cat. no. 4, as "King of Snakes")

Viewing Information
This artwork is currently off display. You may be able to see this artwork by filling out an art viewing room request.


Request this Image
The Eskenazi Museum of Art provides images of its collection, free of charge, upon request. This artwork is under copyright protection. You can request the image and it will be emailed to you when the request is complete.

Cite this Page
"The Snake King and the Stagbeetle Queen | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.