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Josef May

Josef May


Otto Dix

(German, 1891-1969)

Oil, egg tempera, and other media on board

Framed: 105.1 x 88.9 x 6 cm (41 3/8 x 35 x 2 3/8 in.); Unframed: 84 x 68.8 cm (33 1/16 x 27 1/16 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1985.40

Fun Fact

The industrialist Josef May is portrayed in a quite uncomfortable pose. He commissioned the portrait from Otto Dix, whose sometimes unflattering style of depiction was well known. Would you have commissioned this artist to paint a portrait of you?


A leader of the New Objectivity movement in Germany, Dix painted bitter critiques of modern capitalist society. To achieve a more incisive realism in his brutally honest portraits, he mixed egg tempera with other media. The sitter for this portrait, Josef May, was the Jewish manager of the Grünberg grain company in Arnsberg. When the Nazis seized power in 1933, May fled to Holland, where he died of a heart attack in 1938.

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