"Self-Portrait with Straw Hat"
by Max Liebermann
Max Liebermann (1847–1935) – the best-known amongst the German-Jewish artists, the most important representative of German impressionism, president of the Berlin Secession and the Academy of the Arts – produced almost 70 self-portraits in his lifetime. The pictures, most of which depict him in a suit, meticulously register the changes in his physiognomy with sober restraint. Communicating current moods in these portraits was not his style – distance was a way of life for him, a man who described himself as "utterly bourgeois."
In this late self-portrait, the artist also shows himself as bourgeois in his dark suit. He is wearing a Panama hat as well, as in many of the photos taken in the summer house at Wannsee. Two years after the artist had celebrated his 80th birthday and received great honors, he painted himself here with a touch of resignation and melancholy, no doubt in part due to his age but also to the political circumstances of the time.
The small format and the close detail give the painting a personal feel which is further emphasized by the dedication "with gratitude" to the dentist Joseph Gruenberg. The bourgeois countenance is retained nonetheless.
Self-Portrait with Straw Hat
Oil on wood
50 x 39,5 cm