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Max Liebermann  

b. 1847 Berlin, Germany, d. 1935 Berlin, Germany
painter; printmaker
German

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When Max Liebermann exhibited Women Plucking Geese in Berlin, critics branded him an "apostle of ugliness." So began his career as a painter, draftsmen, printmaker and collector, spanning more than fifty years.

The son of a German Jewish businessman, Liebermann began his art studies in 1866. Like the Realist painters he greatly admired--especially Gustave Courbet and Jean-François Millet--Liebermann often painted rural laborers and scenes of everyday life. Believing that "painting should be the exploration of art as the honest study of nature," Liebermann hoped that his unflinching depictions of the working classes would bring about social reform.

Liebermann was the leading artist in Berlin by the early 1890s. He became a much sought-after portraitist and also painted landscapes. Liebermann also amassed an important collection of Impressionist paintings and brought new attention to Impressionism in Germany. In 1920, he was appointed president of the Prussian Academy of Art, the highest artistic institution of the Weimar Republic. In 1932, after Nazi attacks on him intensified, Liebermann resigned this post. A year later, the Nazis began confiscating his paintings from museums and private collections.


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Old Woman with Cat / Liebermann
Old Woman with Cat

German, 1878