Although Beckmann initially came to Frankfurt for a temporary stay to recuperate after his breakdown, it became his home for eighteen years from 1915 to 1933. Beckmann appreciated the relative peace of the city, with its quiet river, idyllic gardens and prosperous middle-class citizens.

Around 1920, he painted a group of cityscapes inspired by his immediate surroundings. The localities all lay within walking distance of Beckmann’s studio, and are easily identifiable. A square called the Börneplatz features in The Synagogue (1919); a local park is shown in The Nizza in Frankfurt am Main (1921). Some of the cityscapes, such as The Synagogue, are heavily distorted and angular, while others, such as Landscape with Poplars (1924), are calmer and animated with a naÏve quality reminiscent of the French painter Henri Rousseau, whose work Beckmann admired. The quiet realism and detached, sober spirit of a number of these works also relate them to the New Objectivity movement (Neue Sachlichkeit) which Beckmann was associated with at this time.