The leading German “impressionist” painter and printmaker, Max Liebermann came from a family of millionaire Jewish manufacturers in Berlin. He rose rapidly to prominence as an artist, being successful throughout his career, to become established as the “grand old man” of German art. Max Liebermann’s open naturalistic style was derived primarily from his association with the French Impressionists. He first came into contact with their work while living in Paris from 1873 until 1877 and his personal wealth enabled him to assemble an impressive collection of their work. Despite his relatively reactionary stance in establishing the dissident Group of XI, Max Liebermann was awarded the Gold Medal at the Berlin Salon in 1897, and subsequently made first President of the Berlin Secession upon its foundation in 1899. Much of the success of the Secession is attributed to Max Liebermann’s inspired leadership. In 1920 he was appointed President of the Prussian Akademie der Kunste, finally resigning his honorary status after the Nazi coup d’etat, only two years before his death.
Although Max Liebermann made his first etching in 1876, he only began to develop his fervent interest in intaglio printmaking in 1890, when encouraged by the Dutch etcher Jan Vert in the technique of soft-ground etching. After a pause of some four years, he resumed printmaking in 1900, largely abandoning the soft-ground technique in favour of drypoint, or occasionally pure etching. It was largely through Max Liebermann’s influence that Lovis Corinth was persuaded to resume his efforts in printmaking. Max Liebermann is known to have produced over 500 original prints. These freely handled, naturalistic works display the open sense of light which was so essential to all Impressionist art and which was critical to establishing Max Liebermann’s position as the leading artist of this school in Germany.