Ben Uri collection


Artist information

Name Max Liebermann (1847-1935)

Born Berlin, Germany

Died Berlin, Germany

Find more work in the collection by this artist

Born in Berlin, Max Liebermann spent a formative period in Paris, then moved to Munich in 1878, before returning to Berlin in 1884. He became a leading figure in German Impressionism and was one of the founders of the Berlin Secession in 1889, of which he became the first President. A decade on, as one of the dominant figures in the German art scene, he was considered one of the establishment figures against whom the German Expressionists revolted. After the National Socialists came to power in Germany in 1933, Liebermann was obliged to resign as President of the Prussian Academy; he died two years later in 1935. In 1943, his wife, fearing Gestapo interrogation, committed suicide. In a chilling quirk of history, the Liebermann’s villa and studio at Wansee, a suburb of Berlin, was located next door to the house in which senior officials of the party gathered on 20 January 1942 to implement the Final Solution to 'the Jewish question'.

Object Details

Date 1927

Object type painting

Medium oil on board

Materials and techniques oil (medium) board (support)

Unframed 48 x 38 cm

Framed 62 x 52.4 cm

Signed signed and dated, top right: Liebermann 27

Acquisition On long term loan from the Zondek Legacy through the good offices of the Board of Belsize Synagogue 2002

Accession number 2004-14

Display status not on display

This self-portrait by the German-Jewish artist Max Liebermann was painted in 1927 when the artist was in his eighties. Portraiture was an integral part of Liebermann's repertoire, however in this late work he relinquished the vivid colour palette usually associated with the work of the Impressionists. Instead, his use of earthy colours testifies to the influence of the French Barbizon School during the 1870s. The majority of his portraits represent seated sitters in a three-quarter-length pose, but here his decision to adopt a bust-length pose allows him to engage more directly with the viewer.

Selected exhibition history

1944 Opening Exhibition

1951 The Artist: Self-Portrait and Environment

1953 Coronation Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture from the Private Collection of Friends of the Ben Uri Art Society

1968 Max Libermann, Isidor Kaufmann, Lesser Ury, E.M Lilien, Hermann Struck, Jacob Steinhardt

2015 Out of Chaos – Ben Uri: 100 Years in London

2018 Finchleystrasse: German artists in exile in Great Britain and beyond 1933-45

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