Die Beichte (The Confession), 1920
oil on canvas
218 x 157.5 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of the Eckhardt-Gramatté Foundation
Walter Gramatté was part of the second generation of German Expressionists working in the 1920s and 1930s. One of the movement’s guiding philosophies was the desire to illustrate or embody elements of the human condition in art. The Confession is one of Gramatté’s most ambitious works in size and subject, measuring over two metres in height. The highly stylized figures and distorted compositional forms are defined by contrasting light and shadow within a deep blue ground. While he achieved acclaim in Berlin’s artistic circles, Gramatté’s international success came only after his untimely death in 1929. With the help of the artist’s widow Sonia Gramatté, the Austrian art historian Ferdinand Eckhardt organized a retrospective exhibition of Walter Gramatté’s work in 1934. In the same year, Eckhardt and Sonia Gramatté married. The couple moved to Winnipeg in 1953, when Eckhardt was appointed Director of the Winnipeg Art Gallery.