Liebermann, Max

Liebermann, Max

(mäks lē`bərmän'), 1847–1935, German genre painter and etcher. He went to Paris in 1873, where he was impressed by the Barbizon schoolBarbizon school
, an informal school of French landscape painting that flourished c.1830–1870. Its name derives from the village of Barbizon, a favorite residence of the painters associated with the school.
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 of painters. In Holland he was influenced by Frans HalsHals, Frans
, c.1580–1666, Dutch painter of portraits and genre scenes, b. Antwerp. Hals spent most of his life in Haarlem, where he studied with Karel van Mander and became (1610) a member of the city's painters' guild.
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 and Jozef IsraëlsIsraëls, Jozef
, 1824–1911, Dutch genre painter. In Amsterdam he painted somber and moving scenes from the life of the Dutch fishermen and peasantry, for which he soon became famous. After 1870 he lived at The Hague.
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. His early works were realistic, but beginning about 1890 he developed a style closely related to impressionismimpressionism,
in painting, late-19th-century French school that was generally characterized by the attempt to depict transitory visual impressions, often painted directly from nature, and by the use of pure, broken color to achieve brilliance and luminosity.
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. As leader of the Berlin secession group (1898–1910), he was instrumental in bringing French impressionism to Germany, where younger artists were already moving toward expressionismexpressionism,
term used to describe works of art and literature in which the representation of reality is distorted to communicate an inner vision. The expressionist transforms nature rather than imitates it.
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. Liebermann depicted the life of the working classes, landscapes, outdoor group studies, and painted more than 200 portraits. A secular Jew and one of his country's most honored artists, he was president of the Prussian Academy of Arts (1920–32) during the Weimar Republic. In his last year, however, he was forbidden to paint by the Nazis and his works were removed from museums and private collections. His painting The Ropewalk in Edam (1904) is in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.


See B. C. Gilbert, ed., Max Liebermann: From Realism to Impressionism (2005).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Liebermann, Max


Born July 20, 1847, in Berlin; died there Feb. 8, 1935. German painter and graphic artist.

Liebermann studied in Berlin from 1866 to 1868 and in Weimar from 1868 to 1872. He lived in Paris (1873–78), Munich (1878–84), and later Berlin. Liebermann was the founder of the Berlin Secession (1898–99). In 1897 he was made a professor at the Academy of Arts in Berlin (president, 1920; honorary president, 1932). He was persecuted by the fascists.

Influenced by G. Courbet, J. Israels, and M. Munkácsy, Liebermann continued in the tradition of German realism. In his early paintings he sympathetically and warmly depicted busy factory women, peasants, artisans, and fishermen. Directness of observation, careful depiction of light and air, and purity and richness of colors are combined with precise rendering of line and three-dimensional form (Women Plucking Geese, 1872; The Flax Spinners 1887—both in the National Gallery in Berlin). Beginning in the 1890’s, under the influence of impressionism, Liebermann often painted landscapes, concentrating a great deal of attention on light, movement, and overall painterly effects (Game of Polo in Jena Park, 1902–03, Kunsthalle, Hamburg). Liebermann is known for his advocacy of the realist art of the past.


Gesammelte Schriften. Berlin, 1922.


Scheffler, K. Max Liebermann. Wiesbaden, 1953.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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According to the "Liebermann, Max" entry in the Encyclopedia Judaica, Liebermann suffered anti-Semitism at the hands of the critics for his 1970 painting, The Boy Jesus in Dispute with the Rabbis.
The film hugely enhances the static exhibits shown in the grand Rothschild rooms on the ground floor; here hangs a small selection of oil paintings by the leading secession artists whom Cassirer exhibited regularly in his gallery, including Max Liebermann, Max Pechstein, Lovis Corinth (Fig.