The article below was published in Pinnable’s newsletter in . The exhibition Max Liebermann — Impressions of Summer ended on 24 June.

Max Liebermann

Impressions of Summer

Painter Max Liebermann (1847–1935) was the foremost German impressionist. His early works, for example Potato Harvest, show that he started as a realist, depicting the life & labour of the poor, but after 1890 his style became influenced by that of the French impressionists, with whom he had become acquainted in Paris during the seventies. Between 1870 and 1914 Liebermann spent a number of summers in the Netherlands, and in 1876 he managed to obtain permission to work in the Amsterdam orphanage, where he painted Orphan Girls in Amsterdam. (And as a little thank you, he donated ƒ 10 to treat the girls to red currants with sugar.) His masterpiece Free Period in the Amsterdam Orphanage, which he created five years later in his studio in Munich, constituted a turning point in Liebermann’s career and gained him widespread recognition. The tree that Liebermann added to the courtyard filters the sunlight to form sun spots on the ground, walls and figures — an element typical of his style.

Max Liebermann: Free Period in the Amsterdam Orphanage
Free Period in the Amsterdam Orphanage (1881–1882)

In the years that followed, Liebermann’s brushwork became more spontaneous, and social realism made way for cheerful pictures of the newly fashionable lifestyle of the belle époque; The Parrot Man for instance, a vibrant image of a zookeeper with his parrots, was painted in 1902, twenty years after Liebermann made studies at Amsterdam’s Artis Zoo. At present the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague is showing the exhibition Max Liebermann — Impressions of Summer, about his life & work, with a special focus on his visits to the Netherlands, and about how he developed from a realist to an impressionist. This exhibition provides an exciting introduction to an artist who has not previously received a lot of attention in the Netherlands, and it is well worth visiting, also because of the numerous lovely paintings from other museums that are on display. (Regrettably this announcement comes rather late, and there are only a few weeks left to see the exhibition, which ends on 24 June.)