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Lot 216: Max Liebermann, Konzert in der Oper, 1919

Modern Art

by Lempertz

December 2, 2016

Cologne, Germany

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  • Max Liebermann, Konzert in der Oper, 1919
  • Max Liebermann, Konzert in der Oper, 1919
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Description: Signed and dated '1919 M Liebermann' in brown lower left.Max Liebermann was very aware of how privileged he was to have his home and studio located directly next to Berlin's Pariser Platz, and he enjoyed the urban life on the eastern side of his town house just as much as the nature in the Tiergarten, which bordered it to the west. This situation was ideal. The Staatsoper “Unter den Linden” was a frequent destination, and he could go there on foot. The opera house presented not only stage performances - pure concerts were held there as well. Concert scenes from the opera can be found in numerous variations among Liebermann's works of the years 1919 to 1924 (cf. Eberle 1919/1-3, 1920/1, 1921/1-3, 1922/1-4, 1923/1-5, 1924/1, 2). The work offered here is one of the earliest interpretations of this subject, which was so important to him that he also depicted it in an etching (see Gustav Schiefler, Das graphische Werk von Max Liebermann, Berlin 1923, p. 48, no. 344 illus. "Das Konzert").In this painting Liebermann has recorded the view from a loge at the Staatsoper. Framed by two caryatids, the orchestra is seated on the stage, with the conductor occupying a central and characteristically prominent position. No background can be made out. Instead, Liebermann plays with light in his own distinctive manner: two large chandeliers hang over the stage, contributing to the sense of an impressionistic snapshot with their vague flickering. The viewer is assigned a seat in the midst of the listeners, on one of the concert chairs which Liebermann has depicted in dark red with a broad brush, dominating the lower edge of the image. On the right side Liebermann has left parts of the canvas unpainted, in order to further intensify the painting's composition: here he has sparingly sketched the loges on the opposite side, producing a dynamic view running towards the middle of the image. In his concert paintings Liebermann was interested in the charged atmosphere of the hall, which he captures in a very nuanced and evocative manner.After the end of the war and the revolutionary turmoil of the previous year, 1919 brought a gratifying moment for Liebermann: the opening exhibition of the “Neue Abteilung der Nationalgalerie”, located in the Kronprinzenpalais next to the opera, presented several of his works. He also created a number of important studies of nature, some of them in his garden along the Wannsee. Liebermann could become enthusiastic about music - in contrast to the opera. Thus, on 4 August 1925, he declared in his typical Berliner diction: “I am simply an entirely unromantic person. Hate all operas. It's not art at all, this halfway thing with its bang and boom. Listen to music only in the concert hall.” (cited after Paul Eipper, in Eberle, p. 1102). The orchestra of the Staatsoper regularly gave concerts on the opera's stage, and Liebermann was a welcome guest. He was very fond of Richard Strauss, who served the opera house as its head musical director and general director from 1908 to 1919 and whom Liebermann portrayed in the previous year he painted our image of a concert (see Eberle 1918/9).

Notes: VAT: Margin scheme

Provenance: Arthur Kraft, Berlin; Dudley Perkins, London (until 1981); Galerie Dr. Bühler, Munich; Christie's, London (1981); Private collection, North Rhine-Westphalia

Dimensions: 38.5 x 50.5 cm

Artist or Maker: Max Liebermann

Exhibited: Munich1981 (Galerie Dr. Bühler), Herbstausstellung, no cat. no. with colour illus. ("In der Loge"); London 1981 (Christie's), Important Continental Pictures of the 19th and 20th Centuries, 20 Mar.1981, lot 92 with full-page colour illus. p.96

Medium: Oil on canvas Framed

Date: 1919

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