Born in Barmen (now Wuppertal), Maximilian Klewer trained as a sign painter at the arts and crafts school in his home town from 1901 to 1905. From 1911, he studied at the Berlin Hochschule für Bildende Künste, where he led a drawing class from 1919 and was appointed professor of drawing from 1921 to 1943. After his early work was influenced by Art Nouveau and Late Impressionism, Klewer developed a naturalistic style from 1910 onwards. His most impressive works were created between the two World Wars; they sometimes show bizarre-comic to surrealistic features but also increasingly lean towards New Objectivity. After his flat and most of his work was destroyed in a bombing raid in 1943, Klewer moved to Bad Soden. There he worked as a portrait and commission painter, though he also created religious works. Throughout his life, Klewer painted numerous self-portraits, which nicely reflect his stylistic and thematic range.