Max Liebermann

Date/place of birth

1847, Berlin

Day/place of death

1935, Berlin

Max Liebermann - Blumenstauden im Nutzgarten nach Südwesten
Max Liebermann - Blumenstauden im Nutzgarten nach Südwesten

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Max Liebermann biography

Every beginning is hard - even for a painter such as Max Liebermann 

Max Lieberman is one of the leading representatives of German impressionism, but his path to this met with many obstacles. From an affluent Berlin background, Liebermann's father did not agree with his wish to pursue an artistic career. Early on, he met important personalities such as Wilhelm von Bode, who would later become one of his greatest patrons, and Liebermann eventually asserted himself against his father and was enrolled at the Weimarer Kunstakademie from 1868 to 1872.

There he analysed the painting of Rembrandt, who had a great influence on his own work. 

In 1871 he made his first trip to Holland, a country he visited every year until 1913. In the Dusseldorf studio of the painter Mihály Munkácsy, Liebermann was inspired by his depictions of realistic everyday scenes to produce his most famous early work "Gänseupferinnen" in 1872. From 1873 to 1878 he lived primarily in Paris and Barbizon, the stronghold of avant-garde artistic production. With the German-French war still fresh in people's minds, he was unable to make the desired contact with the French avant-garde. However he did learn the method of plein air painting, and developed it for himself further. With this, the foundation of his impressionist vision was laid. He subsequently returned to Germany and settled in Munich. 

No artist can escape scandal

Shortly after, he began working on one of his potentially scandalous pictures "Der zwölfjährige Jesus im Tempel". The fact that Lieberman himself was a Jew played a key role here. He was denied the right to depict Jesus in this way. The Augsburger Allgemine wrote that the artist had painted "the ugliest, most impudent Jewish boy imaginable" as Jesus. Lieberman painted over the picture because he could not stand the pressure, but the episode nevertheless made him famous as an artist. 

Initially rejected in Germany as a "painter of dirt" because of his realistic depictions from the working and farming milieu, he received positive resonance with the 1881/1882 pictures "Altmännerhaus in Amsterdam" and "Freistunde im Amsterdamer Waisenhaus" in which he presents the sunlight as flecks of light, thereby achieving a particular liveliness. In 1884 the artist moved back to his hometown, and his naturalistic painting became increasingly freer. 

Finally things look up - Max Lieberman shapes German modernism

He found an important sponsor in Alfred Lichtwark, director of the Hamburger Kunsthalle, who mediated the first of his portrait commissions in 1891, to be followed by many more pictures of the bourgeoisie and well-known personalities such as Gerhard Hauptmann. His mounting success as an artist led to his appointment as professor at the Berliner Akademie in 1897. In the years following, he was one of the founding members of the Berliner Secession and was its president from 1899 to 1911. Around the turn of the century he increasingly turned to scenes from beach life, upper class pastimes as well as views of gardens. The elaborately designed garden at his villa on Wannsee would become the primary motif for his impressionistic paintings and pastels from 1910 onwards. Following conflicts with Emil Nolde and Lovis Corinth, he withdrew from the Berliner Secession in 1913. In 1920 he was appointed President of the Akademie der Künste, a position he had to give up in 1933 on account of his Jewish background. Until his death in 1935, he resided in the palace on Pariser Platz, now known as the Max-Lieberman-Haus, close to the Brandenburger Tor. 

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

Max Liebermann Prices

Max LiebermannBlumenstauden im Nutzgarten nach Südwesten€916.000
Max LiebermannPapageienmann€880.600
Max LiebermannJudengasse in Amsterdam€856.000
Max LiebermannDer Nutzgarten nach Nordosten - Blumenstauden€571.200
Max LiebermannBlumenstauden im Nutzgarten nach Südwesten (Flower Shrubs in the Kitchen Garden towards Southwest)€408.000
Max LiebermannDie große Seestraße in Wannsee mit Spaziergängern (The large Lake Street in Wannsee with Strolling People)€396.000

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