The Dorfstraße mit Passanten was most probably sketched on the spot in a Dutch village on the North Sea coast circa 1905, possibly in Katwijk or in Noordwijk. The subject of the tree-lined road was a particular favourite of Max Liebermann and features prominently throughout his work. It was ideally suited for the implementation of his style, through which he employs the rows of trees in combination with his individual impressionistic approach to successfully create an effective sense of spatial depth.
In 1920, the diplomat Richard Meyer von Achenbach (1883-1956) acquired the Villa Becker at Conradstrasse 13 on Berlin’s Lake Wannsee. This residence was part of the Alsen Villa Colony, an area created from the second half of the 19th century onwards for the Berlin upper classes who spent their summers by the lake. Richard Meyer von Achenbach's property was close to the Villa Liebermann, which the artist and his wife Martha had owned since 1909.
Richard Meyer von Achenbach had made a career in the Foreign Office of the German Empire and the Weimar Republic, and was involved in the negotiations of the Versailles Peace Treaty in 1919. After the rise to power of the National Socialist Party in 1933, like Martha and Max Liebermann, the Meyer von Achenbach family were persecuted because of their Jewish origins. In 1935, Richard Meyer von Achenbach was dismissed from the service and forcibly retired.
The villas of the Liebermanns and the Meyer von Achenbachs, as well as other properties of owners of Jewish descent in the Alsen Villa Colony, were handed or forcibly sold to National Socialist organizations and authorities. By the time the Wannsee Conference was held in the Alsen Villa Colony in January 1942, the residents of Jewish origin had been forced out.
Richard Meyer von Achenbach and his family survived persecution and the war. In August 1939 the former diplomat managed to escape to Sweden together with his wife Marina and their two children Alexis-Richard and Carla Marina. The diplomat was appointed retired ambassador in 1952 as part of reparation measures and was able to initiate restitution claims for his household on Wannsee. Despite the loss of the property and the escape to Sweden Dorfstraße mit Passanten by Max Liebermann remained in the possession of the Meyer von Achenbach family.