Max Liebermann (20 July 1847 – 8 February 1935) was a German-Jewish
painter and printmaker, and one of the leading proponents of
Impressionism in Germany.
5 External links
Martha Liebermann by Anders Zorn, 1896
The son of a Jewish fabric manufacturer turned banker  from Berlin,
Liebermann grew up in an imposing town house alongside the Brandenburg
Gate. He first studied law and philosophy at the University of
Berlin, but later studied painting and drawing in
Weimar in 1869, in
Paris in 1872, and in the
Netherlands in 1876–77. During the
Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), Liebermann served as a medic with the
Order of St. John near Metz. After living and working for some time in
Munich, he finally returned to
Berlin in 1884, where he remained for
the rest of his life. He was married in 1884 to Martha Marckwald
He used his own inherited wealth to assemble an impressive collection
of French Impressionist works. He later chose scenes of the
bourgeoisie, as well as aspects of his garden near Lake Wannsee, as
motifs for his paintings. In Berlin, he became a famous painter of
portraits; his work is especially close in spirit to Édouard Manet.
In his work he steered away from religious subject matter, with one
cautionary exception being an early painting, The 12-Year-Old Jesus in
the Temple With the Scholars (1879). His painting of a Semitic-looking
boy Jesus conferring with Jewish scholars sparked debate. At the
International Art Show in
Munich it stirred up a storm for its
supposed blasphemy, with one critic describing Jesus as "the ugliest,
most impertinent Jewish boy imaginable." Noted for his portraits
(he did more than 200 commissioned ones over the years, including of
Albert Einstein and Paul von Hindenburg), Liebermann also painted
himself from time to time.
On the occasion of his 50th birthday, Liebermann was given a solo
exhibition at the
Prussian Academy of Arts
Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin, and the
following year he was elected to the academy. From 1899 to 1911 he
led the premier avant-garde formation in Germany, the Berlin
Secession. In his various capacities as a leader in the artistic
community, Liebermann spoke out often for the separation of art and
politics. In the formulation of arts reporter and critic Grace Glueck
he "pushed for the right of artists to do their own thing, unconcerned
with politics or ideology". His interest in French Realism was
offputting to conservatives, for whom such openness suggested what
they thought of as Jewish cosmopolitanism. He did contribute
regularly to a newspaper put out by artists during World War I.
Beginning in 1920 he was president of the Prussian Academy of Arts. In
1933 he resigned when the academy decided to no longer exhibit works
by Jewish artists, before he would have been forced to do so under
laws restricting the rights of Jews. While watching the Nazis
celebrate their victory by marching through the Brandenburg Gate,
Liebermann was reported to have commented: "Ich kann gar nicht soviel
fressen, wie ich kotzen möchte." ("I could not possibly eat as much
as I would like to throw up.").
In 1909 Liebermann bought property in Wannsee, a wealthy suburb of
summer homes on the outskirts of Berlin, and designed a villa with
gardens there. From the 1910s until his death, images of the gardens
dominated his work. Liebermann recruited also Lovis Corinth, Ernst
Max Slevogt for the
Berlin Secession, together they were
the most famous painters of the German Impressionism.
On his 80th birthday, in 1927, Liebermann was celebrated with a large
exhibition, declared an honorary citizen of
Berlin and hailed in a
cover story in Berlin's leading illustrated magazine.
Liebermann died on February 8, 1935, at his home on Berlin's Pariser
Platz, near the Brandenburg Gate. According to Käthe Kollwitz, he
fell asleep about 7 p.m. and was gone.
Although Liebermann had been famous, his death was not reported in the
media, now controlled by the Nazis, and there were no representatives
of the Academy of the Arts or the city at his funeral in the Jewish
Cemetery on Schönhauser Allee. However, despite official strictures
by the Gestapo, more than 100 friends and relatives attended the
funeral. Among the mourners were Kollwitz, Hans Purrmann, Otto Nagel,
Ferdinand Sauerbruch, Bruno Cassirer, Georg Kolbe, Max J. Friedländer
and Adolph Goldschmidt.
Ich lasse dich nicht, Du segnest mich denn (Genesis 32:27.)
Liebermann's grave in Berlin
In 2005/2006, the
Skirball Cultural Center
Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and the
Jewish Museum in New York mounted the first major museum exhibition in
the United States of Liebermann's work.
On 30 April 2006 the
Max Liebermann Society opened a permanent museum
in the Liebermann family's villa in the
Wannsee district of Berlin.
The artist's wife, Martha Liebermann, was forced to sell the villa in
1940. On 5 March 1943, at the age of 85 and bedridden from a stroke,
she was notified to get ready for deportation to Theresienstadt
concentration camp. Instead, she committed suicide in the family
home, Haus Liebermann, hours before police arrived to take her away.
There is a stolperstein for her in front of their former home by the
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
In 2011, the
Israel Museum returned a painting to the Max Liebermann
estate, decades after the masterpiece was looted from a Jewish museum
in Nazi Germany. Liebermann had loaned his painting to the Jewish
Berlin in the 1930s. The work, along with many others,
disappeared from the museum during World War II.
His painting Riders on the Beach was found as part of the 2012 Nazi
Jesus in the Temple (detail), 1879.
The Artist's Studio, 1902
Two Riders on the Beach, 1901
Riding Donkey at the Seashore, 1900
Restaurant Terrace in Nienstedten, 1902
Boys Bathing, 1898
Portrait of President
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg 1927
Bleaching on the Lawn, 1892
Samson and Delilah, 1902
^ a b c d e f g h Leah Ollman (September 30, 2005), A dramatic life;
the work, not quite so Los Angeles Times.
^ a b c d e f Glueck, Grace (March 20, 2006). "A
Jewish and Proudly Assimilated". New York Times. Retrieved
March 28, 2017.
^ Kunisch, Hermann (1985). "Liebermann, Max" (in German). Neue
Deutsche Biographie. Vol. 14. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin.
ISBN 3-428-00195-8. p. 482-495; here: p. 482.
^ Martha Liebermann (Marckwald) geni.com. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
^ Käthe Kollwitz: Die Tagebücher 1908–1943. Hrsg. von Jutta
Bohnke-Kollwitz. btb, München 2007. Eintrag vom 9. Februar 1935.
^ Saul Friedländer: Das Dritte Reich und die Juden, Beck’sche
Reihe, München 2010, Seite 24
^ "The Liebermann-Villa".
Liebermann-Villa on Lake Wannsee.
liebermann-villa.de. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
^ a b "Ein Stein für Martha Liebermann" Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung, official website. (June 9, 2005) Retrieved January 2, 2018.
^ Museum returns looted painting Los Angeles Times, September 9, 2011.
Retrieved January 2, 2018.
^ "Photo Gallery:
Munich Nazi Art Stash Revealed". Spiegel. November
17, 2013. Archived from the original on November 17, 2013. Retrieved
November 17, 2013.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Max Liebermann.
Max Liebermann at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about
Max Liebermann at Internet Archive
Max Liebermann at
LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
German masters of the nineteenth century: paintings and drawings from
the Federal Republic of Germany, a full text exhibition catalog from
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which contains material on Max
Liebermann (no. 50-55)
Gallery of Liebermann's paintings at zeno.org
Guide to the
Max Liebermann Collection at the Leo Baeck Institute, New
Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Liebermann, Max". Encyclopædia
Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Henry O. Havemeyer
William Merritt Chase
Frederick Carl Frieseke
Lilla Cabot Perry
John Henry Twachtman
J. Alden Weir
William Blair Bruce
Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté
Maurice Galbraith Cullen
Helen Galloway McNicoll
James Wilson Morrice
Robert Wakeham Pilot
Giovanni Battista Ciolina
Nazmi Ziya Güran
Laura Muntz Lyall
John Peter Russell
Philip Wilson Steer
French Impressionist Cinema
The Impressionists (2006 drama)
Degenerate Art Exhibition
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Munich artworks discovery
Museum of Fine Arts Bern
ISNI: 0000 0001 2095 8679
BNF: cb11956143w (data)