1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Liebermann, Max

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LIEBERMANN, MAX (1849-       ), German painter and etcher, was born in Berlin. After studying under Steffeck, he entered the school of art at Weimar in 1869. Though the straightforward simplicity of his first exhibited picture, “Women plucking Geese,” in 1872, presented already a striking contrast to the conventional art then in vogue, it was heavy and bituminous in colour, like all the artist's paintings before his visit to Paris at the end of 1872. A summer spent at Barbizon in 1873, where he became personally acquainted with Millet and had occasion to study the works of Corot, Troyon, and Daubigny, resulted in the clearing and brightening of his palette, and taught him to forget the example of Munkacsy, under whose influence he had produced his first pictures in Paris. He subsequently went to Holland, where the example of Israels confirmed him in the method he had adopted at Barbizon; but on his return to Munich in 1878 he caused much unfavourable criticism by his realistic painting of “Christ in the Temple,” which was condemned by the clergy as irreverent and remained his only attempt at a scriptural subject. Henceforth he devoted himself exclusively to the study of free-light and to the painting of the life of humble folk. He found his best subjects in the orphanages and asylums for the old in Amsterdam, among the peasants in the fields and village streets of Holland, and in the beer-gardens, factories, and workrooms of his own country. Germany was reluctant, however, in admitting the merit of an artist whose style and method were so markedly at variance with the time-honoured academic tradition. Only when his fame was echoed back from France, Belgium, and Holland did his compatriots realize the eminent position which is his due in the history of German art. It is hardly too much to say that Liebermann has done for his country what Millet did for France. His pictures hold the fragrance of the soil and the breezes of the heavens. His people move in their proper atmosphere, and their life is stated in all its monotonous simplicity, without artificial pathos or melodramatic exaggeration. His first success was a medal awarded him for “An Asylum for Old Men” at the 1881 Salon. In 1884 he settled again in Berlin, where he became professor of the Academy in 1898. He became a member of the Société nationale des Beaux Arts, of the Société royale belge des Aquarellistes, and of the Cercle des Aquarellistes at the Hague. Liebermann is represented in most of the German and other continental galleries. The Berlin National Gallery owns “The Flax-Spinners”; the Munich Pinakothek, “The Woman with Goats”; the Hamburg Gallery, “The Net-Menders”; the Hanover Gallery, the “Village Street in Holland.” “The Seamstress” is at the Dresden Gallery; the “Man on the Dunes” at Leipzig; “Dutch Orphan Girls” at Strassburg; “Beer-cellar at Brandenburg” at the Luxembourg Museum in Paris, and the “Knöpflerinnen” in Venice. His etchings are to be found in the leading print cabinets of Europe.