Max Liebermann - Badende Knaben
Oil on board 33 x 41 cm Framed. With the black estate signature stamp 'MLiebermann' lower right. - The lower left corner professionally reattached, with a small narrow loss of colour.
With rapid brushwork and yet in a sophisticated triangular composition, the group of figures presented in a close-up-view is positioned as if to introduce to the depth of the pictorial space and the vastness of the beach - the sea with its frothy white crests, narrow on the high horizon. The group of figures is captured in a movement of towelling and changing, their body contours sketchily slurred. The colours reduced to white, blue and light beige-brown hues create a freshness in the observer's eye, adequate to a bathing scene in the North Sea on a sunny day. The ease of the scene, however, is only imaginable with adolescent boys, whereas girls were refused such bathing pleasures in Holland and Germany at that time.
“It is the male youth from the fishing villages Zandvoort and Noordwijk that was in the habit of jumping into the water. [...] Summer visitors from the large cities [...] have to be driven into the water with bathing machines. Mothers and their children find their place in the centre of the hotel beaches, the men to the left, the ladies to the right. The boys from the village use a remote and unofficial place, so to speak.” (Matthias Eberle in his expertise).
The oil study, which remained unknown so far, features the pictorial concept (see comparative illus.) that had already been realised in the large version of “Badende Knaben - Jungen in Zandvoort” 1896-1898 (Eberle 1896/2). With the sketch Liebermann also illustrates his true interest: to capture the freshness and swiftness of the adolescent group of figures emerging from the sea, whose flesh tones are merely implied, in an adequately swift brushwork.
List of works
Not recorded by Eberle
With an expertise by Matthias Eberle, Berlin, dated 12 July 2014
Das Haus der Gemälde, Munich (1980); Private possession, Hesse
A settlement exists with the Max Liebermann estate, June 2014.