"Utterly Bourgeois": Self-Portrait with Straw Hat by Max Liebermann

From Our Holdings

Max Liebermann (1847–1935) – the best-known German-Jewish artist, the most important representative of German impressionism, president of the Berlin Secession and the Academy of the Arts – produced almost seventy self-portraits in his lifetime.

Painting of a man wearing a suit and a straw hat

Max Liebermann, Self-Portrait with Straw Hat; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

Distance as a Guiding Principle

In most of them, Liebermann depicted himself in a suit, meticulously recording the changes in his facial appearance with matter-of-fact 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."

A Touch of Resignation and Melancholy

In this late self-portrait, the artist also presents himself as bourgeois in his dark suit. He is also wearing a Panama hat, as in many of the photos taken in the summer house at Wannsee. Two years after celebrating his 80th birthday and receiving great honors, the artist 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.

Personal Dedication

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. And yet, the figure's countenance is as bourgeois as ever.

Title Self-Portrait with Straw Hat
Artist Max Liebermann
Collection Fine Arts
Location and year of origin Berlin, 1929
Medium Oil on wood
Dimensions 50 x 39,5 cm
Selected Objects (11) Fine Arts Collection Show all

Fine Arts Collection

Glance through our art holdings featuring modernist works by Max Liebermann and Lovis Corinth, and commercial graphic art by Louis Oppenheim. The motifs span from biblical and Jewish themes to intimate portraits and Felix Nussbaum’s haunting response to his experience of persecution.

Biblical map of the Holy Land

This "New and Original Biblical Map of the Holy Land" from 1893 was probably never intended to be used by pilgrims or travelers on the ground.

Loneliness by Felix Nussbaum

Nussbaum is nearly unique among artists for his striking examination of his plight as one of the persecuted. He painted it in Brussels, where he was in hiding, in 1942.

The Plesch Family Portrait by Max Slevogt

Max Slevogt created this painting of his friend's family in 1928. It captures the intimacy of family life while fulfilling a group portrait's representative function.

Composition by Otto Freundlich

Otto Freundlich painted this abstract composition in 1938 – one year after another artwork of his had been branded "degenerate art" in Nazi Germany.

Moses Looks upon the Promised Land by Lesser Ury

For artist Lesser Ury, the painting marked the end of a lifelong preoccupation with the figure of Moses. Unfortunately, only a pastel sketch for the painting survives.

Petermannchen by Lovis Corinth

Lovis Corinth painted this portrait of his student and wife-to-be during a beach vacation on the Baltic coast. It contains a secret romantic message.

Girl Walking by Elisabeth Wolff

The sculpture by Elisabeth Wolff was a trophy at the first sporting festival held by the Reich Committee for Jewish Youth Associations, in 1934. The artwork has only been entrusted to our collection for safekeeping.

Self-Portrait with Straw Hat by Max Liebermann

In this late self-portrait, the artist presents himself as bourgeois in a dark suit and a Panama hat. Two years after his eightieth birthday, he painted himself here with a touch of resignation and melancholy.

S. Adam Advertising Poster by Louis Oppenheim

With this poster by the well-known graphic artist Louis Oppenheim, the S. Adam clothing store advertised its products to male and female sports enthusiasts in 1908.

Passage through the Red Sea by Jakob Steinhardt

This woodcut by Jakob Steinhardt illustrates a 1920s Haggadah. The people barely escaped with their lives—as is revealed in the expression on Moses’ face.

Albertine Mendelssohn-Bartholdy as a Bride by August Theodor Kaselowsky

In this painting, Albertine Heine appears to be a Christian Madonna. She holds the ring near her heart, wearing a white dress with her gaze modestly lowered.

Max Liebermann (Artist)

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