Professor Dr. Matthias Eberle will include this painting in his forthcoming supplement to the Liebermann catalogue raisonné.
Max Liebermann yearned for a private garden for much of his life. When visiting a farmer's garden near Hamburg in the early 1890s, he had reacted passionately to the simplicity and linearity of the cut hedges, straigh paths and flower beds he saw there, saying 'When I have a villa built for myself at home, I am going to put in a garden like this one'. Holding his hands before his eyes to frame different pictorial motifs, he added, 'one could paint hundreds of pictures here, one more beautiful than the other' (M. Liebermann, quoted in A. Lichtwark, Makartbouquet und Blumenstrauss, Munich 1894, p. 59.).
In 1909, Liebermann, by now an established and prosperous portrait painter and president of the Berlin Secession, bought a lakeside property by the Wannsee, a fashionable outdoor district west of Berlin. There, together with Alfred Lichtwark, director of the Kunsthalle Hamburg and a follower of the reformist garden movement, Liebermann carefully created his own tightly structured, rhythmically hierarchised garden. This 'Wannsee paradise', besides being a hideaway from his busy city life, was an inexhaustible sourse of inspiration for the artist who, for the most part, painting directly from nature, produced about 200 oil paintings, pastels and drawings of the garden from all possible viewpoints and in different seasons.
In Wannseegarten, the abundant vegetation grows over the canvas blocking out the sky, evoking a strong plasticity realised by a combination of thick brushwork, sometimes reworked with a palette knife, and an extensive mesh of quick fluid dabs. Typical of his late views of his Wannsee garden, Liebermann has here tirelessly fathomed all possible varieties of nuanced relationships between geometric shapes and spaces, colour and texture, regulariy and disorder, to invest the painting with a highly modern abstract quality that reflects a new degree of painterly freedom and expression.