Conservative circles taunted Liebermann as the “apostle of ugliness”. Nevertheless, the Städelscher Museums-Verein showed courage and providence when it acquired this early key work immediately after it was founded in 1899. Liebermann had sketched the inmates of the ‘Burgerweeshuis’ in Amsterdam. It was only later that he executed the oil painting in his Munich studio. This work was created at a turning point, when Liebermann left behind the shades of brown of his realist phase and adopted the lighter palette of Impressionism.
Under the direction of the influential figure Leopold Sonnemann, a member of the Reichstag and the founder and owner of the 'Frankfurter Zeitung', the Städelscher Museums-Verein was established in 1899 as an institution for the collective furtherance of art. The eighty-odd members of the society celebrated their first purchase in 1900 with the acquisition of Max Liebermann's painting 'The Courtyard of the Orphanage in Amsterdam', which was the subject of lively controversy at the time. The Berlin artist was the main representative of German Impressionism and hence in opposition to the imperial concept of art, which was reflected in battle scenes and public victory monuments. But the painting also met with rejection within the ranks of the society. Sonnemann reacted promptly: he undertook to pay part of the purchase price himself and at the same time threatened to resign. In view of this radical step, people backed down and the modern age entered the museum in the form of this painting.
Since 2001, the Städel Museum has systematically been researching the provenance of all objects that were acquired during the National Socialist period, or that changed owners or could have changed owners during those years. The basis for this research is the “Washington Declaration”, also known as the “Washington Conference Principles”, formulated at the 1998 “Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets” and the subsequent “Joint Declaration”.
The provenance information is based on the sources researched at the time they were published digitally. However, this information can change at any time when new sources are discovered. Provenance research is therefore a continuous process and one that is updated at regular intervals.
Ideally, the provenance information documents an object’s origins from the time it was created until the date when it found its way into the collection. It contains the following details, provided they are known:
The successive ownership records are separated from each other by a semicolon.
Gaps in the record of a provenance are indicated by the placeholder “…”. Unsupported information is listed in square brackets.
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Art-technology findings and/or documentation regarding conservation and restoration are available for this work. If interested, please contact .