Max Liebermann

1847 Berlin - 1935 Berlin

Max Liebermann, son of a Berlin industrialist, already received private painting lessons during his schooldays. Later, he studied at the Weimar Academy for three and a half years (until 1872). A trip to Düsseldorf in 1871 led him to Mihály Munkácsy, whose realism inspired him. Under this impression he created his first large painting "Die Gänserupferinnen" (Women Plucking Geese) in the same year. Its unembellished realism, which met with harsh rejection from critics, became characteristic of his style of representation from then on. From 1871, Liebermann regularly travelled to Holland, where he found motifs for some of his most important works of this period. The years from 1873 to 1878 he spent in Paris and the artists' town Barbizon. Troyon, Daubigny, Corot, but especially Millet influenced him deeply. Because of his commitment to elevate the life and work of the common man to art in unsolemn simplicity, Liebermann always had to fight for recognition. Only when he increasingly turned to motifs and scenes from the life of the upper middle classes did he become a celebrated painter of the turn of the century liberal bourgeoisie. From 1878 to 1884, Liebermann lived in Munich, after that he returned to his native city of Berlin. Liebermann, the ‘realist’, now increasingly became the leading ‘German impressionist’. Liebermann did not only hold an important position as an artist, but also as an art politician. Already in early 1892, he was a member of Germany's first secession, whose Berlin presidency he held from 1898 to 1911. Eventually, Berlin honoured him with an appointment as professor at the Royal Academy of Arts. Later, between 1920 and 1932, he became president of the Prussian Academy of Arts. Liebermann spent the last period of his life in seclusion.


Karl Scheffler, Max Liebermann. Piper, München 1906; Oskar Bie, Max Liebermann. Holländisches Skizzenbuch, Berlin 1911; Gustav Pauli, Max Liebermann. Des Meisters Gemälde in 304 Abbildungen, Stuttgart 1911; Erich Hancke, Max Liebermann. Sein Leben und seine Werke, Berlin 1914; Walther Rathenau, Max Liebermann, In: Berliner Tageblatt vom 1. Juli 1917; Julius Elias, Max Liebermann, Berlin 1921; Max J. Friedländer, Max Liebermann, Berlin 1924; Hans Rosenhagen, Max Liebermann, Bielefeld 1900; Hans Ostwald (Hrsg.), Das Liebermann-Buch. Mit 270 Illustrationen von Max Liebermann, Berlin 1930; Katrin Boskamp, Studien zum Frühwerk von Max Liebermann mit einem Verzeichnis der Gemälde und Ölstudien von 1866 bis 1889, Hildesheim 1994; Matthias Eberle, Max Liebermann. Werkverzeichnis der Gemälde und Ölstudien. München 1995 (2 Bd.); Birgit Pflugmacher, Der Briefwechsel zwischen Alfred Lichtwark und Max Liebermann. Bearbeitet und mit einer Einleitung hrsg. von Birgit Pflugmacher, Hildesheim 2003; Marion Deshmukh, Françoise Forster-Hahn, Barbara Gaehtgens (Hrsg.), Max Liebermann and International Modernism. An Artist's Career from Empire to Third Reich, New York City / Oxford 2011