Max Beckmann is one of the most important German artists of classical modernism. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, he painted a series of sea views at the beaches of the North and Baltic Seas, the seaboards of Denmark, Holland and France. In these paintings created on numerous trips to the Netherlands, he picked the same object of study as the well-known German painter Max Liebermann before him. In diaries and letters, Beckmann described the sea as a metaphor of his life and his art, calling it “my old girlfriend”.
Beach Scenery at Incoming Tide was painted in 1904 after a winter sojourn at the beach of Scheveningen. From a tall dune we look at a wide stretch of beach and the sea. Curved lines run through the sand, lending the work a graphic quality. Thin white brushstrokes in the seemingly calm water surface indicate the incoming tide as it slowly moves closer. There are also isolated white patches of snow on the beach. Light brown and ochre hues imbue the painting – basically a nature study – with a muted atmosphere. The wooden structure depicted at the bottom left points to the desertedness of nature during the cold season. The influence of Art Nouveau and of Edvard Munch is clearly evident in this early work by Beckmann.