Signed and dated in pen and ink, "Beckmann / A[msterdam]. 45"; Verso: Italian stamp, [illegible] "... internazionale del disegno"; dated and inscribed in graphite pencil, "5 nov. 1945, Chicago Art Museum, The Telephone".
Watermark: PH ANTIQUE
Beckmann, who is best known for his large allegorical paintings, was forced to leave Germany in 1937 after Hitler declared his work "degenerate." He created this work while living in exile in Amsterdam. The subject is characteristic of Beckmann's predilection for juxtaposing modern life and ancient myth. Next to an old woman holding a telephone receiver stands the couple of Mars and Venus, in a scene similar to that of a watercolor done at the same time, November 5, 1945. Taken together, the drawings seem to symbolize the end of the war and the reestablishment of communications.