The People’s Bank Shortly Before the Crash

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Christian Ludwig Bokelmann (German, 1844–1894)
The People’s Bank Shortly Before the Crash, 1877
Oil on canvas
38 5/8 × 52 in. (98.11 × 132.08 cm)
Layton Art Collection Inc., Gift of Frederick Layton L1888.24
Photo credit: Larry Sanders
Currently on View

In this quietly dramatic scene, a large group of citizens in various states of horror and dismay gathers outside the Vienna Volksbank, which has just closed its doors to avert a disastrous run on its accounts. This painting records an actual event in 1873 that heralded the start of the global recession now called the Long Depression. Bokelmann was renowned as a chronicler of everyday life, and his great skill is reflected in the facial expressions, detailed clothing, and architectural setting. He also included touching details, such as the overturned basket in the foreground, a subtle allusion to the hopelessness of the situation.

Publication History
Eastberg, John C. and Eric Vogel. Layton’s Legacy: A Historic American Art Collection 1888–2013. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Layton Art Collection, Inc., 2013, pp. 84, 94–97, 116, 456, color pl. 3, p. 94, color illus. p. 84, color detail pp. 96–97, b/w photo of painting in Whitney residence p. 85.

Ambrosini, Lynne, and Tamera Lenz Muente. Nineteenth-Century German Paintings from the Milwaukee Art Museum. Cincinnati: Taft Museum of Art, 2007, p. 15, color illus. p. 15.

Grohmann, Martin et al. Kurshefte Geschichte: Industrielle Revolution und Moderne um 1900: Schülerbach. Cornelsen Verlag, 2001, color illus.

Munchner Kunstlerhaus. Kunst und Technik. Munich: Munchner Kunstlerhaus, 2000, cat. 21, color illus.

Börsch-Supan, Helmut et al. Lexikon der Düsseldorfer Malerschule: 1819–1918. Vol. 1. Munich: Bruckman, 1997, p. 164, color illus. fig. 167.

Articus, Rudiger. Christian Ludwig Bokelmann. Hamburg, Germany: Hambuger Museum fur Archaologie und die Geschichte Harburgs Helms Museum, 1994, p. 58, no. 36, b/w. illus. p. 59.

Milwaukee Art Museum. 1888: Frederick Layton and His World. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1988, cat. 29, b/w illus. p. 95.

Naglin, Nancy. On Exhibit: Founder's Choice. Americana 16, no. 1 (March/April 1988): 18.

Goldstein, Rosalie, ed. Guide to the Permanent Collection. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1986, p. 83, b/w illus. p. 83.

Bisanz, Rudolf M. The René von Schleinitz Collection of the Milwaukee Art Center: Major Schools of German Nineteenth-Century Popular Painting. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Center, 1980, pp. 54–55, cat. 10, b/w illus. p. 55. (title as The Broken Bank (Zusammenbruch einer Volksbank))

Milwaukee Art Center. Mirrors of 19th Century Taste: Academic Painting. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Center, 1974, no. 8.

Layton Art Gallery. Catalogue of the Layton Art Gallery. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Layton Art Gallery, 1921, p. 31, cat. 53. (as The Broken Bank)

Pattison, James William. The Layton Art Gallery of Milwaukee. Brush and Pencil 3, no. 4 (January 1899): 206, b/w illus. p. 207. (as The Broken Bank)

Caring for Pictures. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 16, 1894, p. 1, NewsBank America’s Newspapers, http://infoweb.newsbank.com (accessed August 24, 2017). (as the Broken Bank)

Milwaukee of Today. Street Railway Review 3, no. 9 (September 15, 1893): 539. (as The Broken Bank by Ludwig Bakelmann)

Mr. Layton's Gift. The Milwaukee Sentinel, April 6, 1888, pp. 1–2.(as both A Savings Bank Suspension and The Broken Bank)

Pictures for the Public. The Daily Inter Ocean, April 6, 1888, p. 8, Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers, http://find.galegroup.com (accessed August 24, 2017). (as The Broken Bank by Bokleman)

Layton Art Gallery. The Opening of the Layton Art Gallery. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Layton Art Gallery, 1888, pp. 37 and 51, cat. 24.

Notes: New Pictures in the Galleries. The Art Journal 5 (1879): 64.

Leipziger Illustrirte Zeitung, January 4, 1879, b/w illus.
Exhibition History
The German Entrepreneurs, Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, Germany, April 25–August 31, 2008.

Nineteenth-Century German Paintings from the Milwaukee Art Museum, Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio, September 7–November 4, 2007.

100th Anniversary Exhibition, Munchner Kunstlerhaus, Munich, Germany, July 20–September 2, 2000.

Christian Ludwig Bokelmann, Hamburger Museum für Archäologie und die Geschichte Harburgs, Hamburg, Germany, June 8–September 4, 1994.

Bismarck-Preussen, Deutchland and Europa, Deutches Historisches Museum, Berlin, Germany, August 26–November 25, 1990.

1888: Frederick Layton and His World, Milwaukee Art Museum, April 8–August 28, 1988.

Mirrors of 19th Century Taste: Academic Painting, Milwaukee Art Center, July 14–August 25, 1974.

Samuel P. Avery Gallery, New York, New York, 1879.

Paris Exposition Universelle, Paris, France, 1878.


This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.