The wife of artist Max Beckmann (1884-1950), Mathilde Kaulbach, called Quappi, was the youngest daughter of the celebrated portraitist Friedrich August von Kaulbach (1850-1920) and his second wife Frida Schytte. Encouraged by her mother, a concert violinist, Mathilde was trained as a violinist herself and also studied voice and acting in Munich and Vienna. In 1924, while visiting the house of her friend the painter Marie-Louise von Motesiczky (1906-1996), she met Beckmann, in Vienna on route between Germany and Italy. Mathilda married Max Beckmann in Munich in 1925, after the artist had divorced his first wife, Minna Beckmann-Tube. The Beckmanns settled in Frankfurt where Max was appointed to teach at the Stadelsches Kunstinstitut. Mathilde served as a subject in many of her husband's paintings. In 1937 they moved to the Netherlands, one day after the "Degenerate Art" exhibition opened in Munich. By that time a total of 590 works by Beckmann had been confiscated by the Nazis. With help from Mathilde's sister, Hedda, who lived in the Netherlands, they moved to Amsterdam where they remained until 1947. In 1947 Beckmann accepted an invitation to teach at Washington University in Saint Louis; Mathilde and Max arrived in the United States on 18 September 1947. Mathilde attended all of her husband's classes in order to assist with the english language during his lectures and critiques. In September 1949 Beckmann started a tenured position at Brooklyn Museum Art School and they moved to New York. Beckmann died of a heart attack while walking near Central Park on 27 December 1950. Mathilde spent the remainder of her life in New York. She edited Beckmann's journals 1940-1950, published in Germany in 1955, and also wrote My life with Max Beckmann, published in 1983. The last three months of her life she spent in Jacksonville, Florida, where she died on 30 March 1986.
Beckmann, Mathilda. My Life with Max Beckmann. 1983
New York Times. 4 April 1986 [obituary]
Schneede, Uwe W. Max Beckmann Briefe I (1899-1925).