The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

February 8, 2016

February 8, 1935

Max Liebermann (July 20, 1847 to February 8, 1935) was a German artist. His career as an assimilated German Jew is discussed in an article at the Jewish Museum website, which includes quotes from Mason Klein's catalog  composed for Liebermann's only solo show (2006) in the United States.

The painting below is characteristic of Liebermann's early naturalism. About that stage (not the painting itself)  we read:

In his early Naturalist phase, when his paintings focused on working people and conferred upon them an unprecedented dignity, he shocked some audiences and was called a “painter of filth” and an “apostle of ugliness.” He was frequently attacked as a promoter of Impressionism; in 1905, he was vilified as “anti-national.”

[Klein focuses on] the relationship between stylistic changes in Liebermann’s art and the changing social and political climate in which the artist lived and worked. German-French antipathy, which came to a head militarily in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871) is one example; as a Francophile, he had to combat anti-French bias throughout this period. Another key development was the creation of a unified Germany in 1871, in which a new constitution emancipated Jews and gave them full rights as German citizens. Klein asserts that Liebermann, as a member of a wealthy Berlin Jewish family, exemplified his social class and its embrace of Bildung, or high culture. ...[He] identifies a driving force in Liebermann’s life: “The preservation of these [bourgeois] ideals was more real to him than religion. It also underlay the aesthetic and ideological contradictions inherent in his work—his dream of assimilation and his quest for artistic independence in the name of individualism.”...

Liebermann moved from the early 1890s toward Impressionism. Now he chose to portray leisure scenes from his social class: strolling in the park, sitting in caf├ęs, horseback riding or playing tennis.

In 1898, Liebermann was elected president of the Berlin Secession, an artists’ association promoting modern art and formed as an alternative to conservative exhibition and patronage policies. As its leader, Liebermann was responsible in great part for introducing Impressionism to Germany. “In many ways,” Klein asserts, “he worked to break down the repressive cultural standards of his time.”

This 1921 painting of the Liebermann home in Wannsee is titled "The Flower Terrace in the Wannsee Garden, facing northwest." It illustrates the  impressionism he introduced.

[By] the end of his career, the artist had been accorded honor after honor, culminating in his election as president of the Prussian Academy of Arts. The rise of the Third Reich ended his career, and forced him to awaken from what he termed a “beautiful dream of assimilation.”


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