In 1925, Beckmann married Mathilde von Kaulbach, nicknamed ‘Quappi’ (deriving from the similarity of her surname to the German word Kaulquappe, meaning ‘tadpole’). Beckmann had lived separately from his first wife Minna since 1915, but they did not divorce until 1925. He met Quappi in 1924. The daughter of the Munich painter August Friedrich von Kaulbach, she was twenty years younger than him. Quappi had trained as a singer, but gave up her career after marriage. She poured her energies into furthering Beckmann’s artistic career and was crucial in cultivating contacts with collectors and supporters.

Beckmann painted numerous portraits of Quappi, depicting her in a variety of guises, as a woman of society, as a classical nude, or disguised as Pierrette. The double-portrait Carnival (Pierrette and Clown) (1925) shows Quappi sitting boldly with her legs crossed, holding a fan in the centre of the painting. Although the clown’s identity is hidden by a white scarf wrapped around his head, he has been identified as Beckmann himself, perhaps making the portrait a commemoration of the couple’s wedding.