The Painters of Modern Life

Stephen Crane, Edward Garnett, Henry Lawson, Lindsay Barrett
The first time I saw the painting The Flax Weavers by the Berlin impressionist Max Liebermann, in the Alte Nationale Galerie in Berlin, I had the strange feeling that, somehow, I was already familiar with it; that in a sense, I had seen it before. The Flax Weavers was painted in 1887 and depicts a group of women in a wooden workshop space weaving together long plats of flax, a plant that was an indispensable component of rope and canvas making during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
more » ... grew in vast swathes on the Baltic coast north of Berlin, and the harvesting and the fabrication of it into important military and commercial items was a mainstay of the area's economy. Max Liebermann, native to the area, became best known for his calm impressionist meditations on the gardens around his villa by the shores of a lake near the Prussian capital, but like a number of other Berlin artists of the time, he also shared a concern with the everyday realism of working class life, even if his depictions of this life found impressionist, rather than harder-edged realist form.