GALLERIES/Daxer & Marschall
PROVENANCE:Berlin art trade, 1898;
private collection, Berlin, 1900;
Albrecht Guttmann, Berlin, 1911-17;
Berlin, Galerie Cassirer, auction sale, May 18, 1917, Moderne Gemälde - Die Sammlung A. Guttmann und Nachlass eines Berliner Sammlers, lot 46, hammer price 53,010 marks (sale book: to 'M. Schwersenz, Berlin');
Martin Schwersenz, Berlin (1863-1943), May 18, 1917;
Alfred and Gertrud Sommerguth, Berlin and New York, acquisition date unknown, owners until December 12, 1944. The painting was in the keeping of Fritz Nathan, St. Gallen, Switzerland, from 1940 until December 1944;
Galerie Fischer, Lucerne, purchased from Fritz Nathan for 7,500 Swiss francs on December 12, 1944;
Hans Soraperra-Blattmann (1889-1969), Zurich, purchased from the above in 1945;
Galerie Norbert Nusser, Munich, acquired from the above in October 1958;
Georg Schäfer private collection, Schweinfurt, inv. 69353687, purchased from the above in 1958;
Private collection, Germany.
Settlement agreed on behalf of the heirs of Alfred and Gertrud Sommerguth in 2018.
Max Liebermann (1847-1935). Gemälde – Handzeichnungen – Graphik, Zurich, Galerie Aktuaryus, April 8-May 2, 1945, no. 15;
Max Liebermann en Holland, The Hague, Haags Gemeentemuseum, 1980, p. 31, no. 31;
Zij waren in Laren, Laren, Singermuseum, 1989-90, no. 85, repr. p. 11;
Mauve tot Mondriaan, Laren. Singermuseum, January 30-May 18, 2014.
FURTHER INFORMATION:Laren is a small town approximately thirty kilometres from Amsterdam. In the late nineteenth century, it played a key role in the development of modern Dutch painting. Jozef Israëls, one of the leading representatives of the Hague School of painting, first visited Laren in 1874 when the village was still a simple farming community. It was here that he found the authentic rural milieu he hoped for, in the unspoiled countryside far removed from the modern industrialized world. Prominent painters and writers began to flock to the village and before long Laren was a thriving artistic community. With the opening of a rail line to Laren in 1882, the village rapidly established itself as the 'Barbizon of the Netherlands'.
The present painting, titled Sunday Afternoon in Laren, or Churchgoers in Laren, depicts a group of young women walking down a wide, tree-lined avenue in Laren on a Sunday afternoon. Liebermann had a predilection for views of figures strolling under tall trees beneath a canopy of foliage. Such images appear frequently in his oeuvre. Leading the group are five young women, some wearing white bonnets and other brown hats. They walk arm in arm in lively conversation, followed by two other women. They are all dressed in traditional grey smocks and white aprons. A group of three young men can be glimpsed in the far right background. Earlier sketches and studies of the motif show that Liebermann had originally planned to depict a much larger group of male onlookers.
The painting is based on a range of earlier versions and studies of the subject that Liebermann had worked on intensively since the early 1880s. It is the largest of all known versions. The motif of the group of young women had already interested him sometime before his first stay in Laren in 1884 while honeymooning with his wife Martha. The couple stopped in Laren to visit an artists' community known as the 'Laren School'. Jozef Israëls - with whom Liebermann enjoyed a close artistic friendship - accompanied them on their visit.
In Sunday Afternoon in Laren Liebermann has focused on the depiction of dappled light filtering through the canopy of foliage along the avenue. Accents of sunlight heighten the aprons and faces of the young women. In the late 1880s, his painting underwent a stylistic shift, a transition from Naturalism to Impressionism. This was also reflected in his collecting activities. He owned an extensive art collection, acquiring his first Impressionist painting in 1892. Working with Hugo von Tschudi, who was named Director of the Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 1896, he campaigned energetically to obtain recognition for French Impressionism in Germany.
Max Liebermann, disenchanted as a young man with the traditionalism of German academic practice, shifted his interest to progressive artistic developments in Holland and France. In Barbizon, the cradle of Naturalism, he studied plein-air painting. In Holland, he was in close contact with the landscape painters of the Hague School, and in Paris, with the French Impressionists. With what he absorbed and assimilated on his own artistic quest, he would break new ground both stylistically and thematically. Initially, his depiction of simple peasant working life free of literary and historical references drew harsh criticism. In Berlin, he advanced to be the driving force in opposition to Prussian-Wilhelminian artistic dictates.
From 1874 until the outbreak of the First World War Liebermann spent his summers in Holland, which he described as his Malheimat. The art historian Max J. Friedländer noted: 'Liebermann lives the life of a bourgeois in Berlin and a painter in Holland.' Here he got to know a large number of artists, such as August Allebé and his pupil Jan Veth, and members and associates of the Hague School of painting like Jozef and Isaac Israëls, Jacob and Willem Maris, Anton Mauve and Jan Toorop. That he was made an honorary member of the Hollandsche Teekenmaatschappij, in 1892 testifies to the depth of those contacts.