The J. Paul Getty Museum

An Old Woman with Cat

Object Details


An Old Woman with Cat


Max Liebermann (German, 1847 - 1935)






Oil on canvas

Object Number:



96.5 × 74.9 cm (38 × 29 1/2 in.)

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Object Description

An old woman sits alone with a cat in front of a rough wall. Her head bowed to the side and her large coarse hands gently embracing the cat emphasize the emotional bond between the woman and her pet. Through such gestures, Max Liebermann filled the subject with his own understated and affecting humanity. He depicted the woman in bright light and wearing a richly colored skirt, thus omitting obvious signs of poverty and avoiding an unnecessary display of sentimentality.

Influenced by the Dutch Masters of the 1600s, Liebermann became fascinated with themes that concerned contemplative states. He also absorbed the lessons of French painters; his richly worked execution of this painting reflects the painterly style he learned in Paris in the 1870s.  An Old Woman with Cat was painted in 1878 in Venice, where Liebermann went to recuperate after breaking his leg. He captured that city's famous golden light to harmonize the rich and disparate colors and textures of the woman and the setting.

by 1911 - still in 1914

Dr. G. Heilbut (Hamburg, Germany)

by 1917 - 1925

Eduard Arnhold, 1849 - 1925 (Berlin, Germany), by inheritance to his heirs, 1925.

1925 -

Heirs of Eduard Arnhold, 1849 - 1925

by 1979

Private Collection (Switzerland)


Private Collection [unsold, Christie's, London, March 26, 1982, lot 82.]

- 1986

Private Collection [sold, Hauswedell & Nolte, Hamburg, June 10, 1986, lot 728, to Galerie Nathan.]

1986 - 1987

Galerie Nathan (Zurich, Switzerland), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1987.

Max Liebermann: Ausstellung zum 70. Geburtstag des Künstlers (1917)
  • Königliche Akademie der Künste (Berlin), 1917
Max Liebermann in seiner Zeit (September 6, 1979 to February 17, 1980)
  • Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin), September 6 to November 4, 1979
  • Haus der Kunst (Munich), December 15, 1979 to February 17, 1980
Max Liebermann en Holland (1980)
  • Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (The Hague), 1980
Max Liebermann: From Realism to Impressionism (September 15, 2005 to July 9, 2006)
  • Skirball Museum (Los Angeles), September 15, 2005 to January 29, 2006
  • The Jewish Museum (New York), March 10 to July 9, 2006

Pauli, Gustave, ed. Max Liebermann: Des Meisters Gemälde in 304 Abbildungen (Stuttgart and Leipzig: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1911), pp. 46, 244, 254, ill.

Hancke, Erich. Max Liebermann: Sein Leben und seine Werke (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1914), pp. 129, 530.

Max Liebermann: Ausstellung zum 70. Geburtstage des Künstlers; Veranstaltet von der Königl. Akademie der Künste, Berlin, exh. cat. (Leipzig: E. A. Seemann, 1917), p. 7, no. 39.

Max Liebermann: 24 Farbige Faksimiledrucke nach Gemälden aus der Ausstellung seiner Werke in der Kgl. Akademie der Künste zu Berlin aus Anlass seines 70 Geburtstages (Charlottenburg: Photographische Gesellschaft Kunstverlag, 1917), no. 7, ill.

Hancke, Erich. Max Liebermann: sein Leben und Seine Werke (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1923), p. 129.

Eberle, Matthias, et al, eds. Max Liebermann in seiner Zeit, exh. cat. (Berlin: Nationalgalerie, 1979), pp. 121, 202-3, no. 31, ill., entry by Matthias Eberle.

Sillevis, John, Nini Jonker, and Margreet Mulder, eds. Max Liebermann en Holland, exh. cat. (The Hague: Gemeentemuseum, 1980), pp. 29, 56, no. 17, ill.

Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Important 19th and 20th Century Pictures. March 26, 1982, pp. 98-99, lot 82, ill.

Hauswedell & Nolte, Hamburg. Moderne Kunst. June 9-10, 1986, p. 107, lot 728, pl. 4.

"Principales acquisitions des musées en 1987." La chronique des arts: Supplément à la Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 111, no. 1430 (March 1988), p. 65.

"Acquisitions/1987." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 16 (1988), p. 160, no. 27, ill.

Küster, Bernd. Max Liebermann: Ein Maler-Leben (Hamburg: Ellert & Richter Verlag, 1988), p. 48.

Boskamp, Katrin. Studien zum Frühwerk von Max Liebermann, mit einem Katalog der Gemälde und Ölstudien von 1866-1889 (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 1994), p. 239, no. 103.

Eberle, Matthias. Max Liebermann, 1847-1935: Werkverzeichnis der Gemälde und Ölstudien. Vol. 1, 1865-1899 (Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 1995), pp. 151-52, no. 1878/14, ill.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 73, ill.

Howoldt, Jenns E., and Birte Frenssen, eds. Max Liebermann: Der Realist und die Phantasie, exh. cat. (Hamburg: Kunsthalle, with Dölling und Galitz, 1997), p. 240.

Gilbert, Barbara C., ed. Max Liebermann: From Realism to Impressionism, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Skirball Cultural Center, with University of Washington Press, 2005), pp. 73, 216, no. 9, pl. 9.

Saabye, Marianne, et al, eds. Krøyer: An International Perspective, exh. cat. James Manley, trans. (Copenhagen: The Hirschsprung Collection, 2011), p. 179, under no. 31, fig. 10, entry by Marianne Saabye.