German painter of portraits, figures and landscapes; etcher and lithographer. Born in Berlin of Jewish parents. Studied under Steffeck 1866-8 and at the art school in Weimar 1868-72. First visited Paris and Holland in 1872, then lived mainly in Paris 1873-8, with visits in the summers of 1874-5 to Barbizon and afterwards to Holland; influenced by Hals, Millet and Israels, and made studies from nature and paintings of peasant life. Moved in 1878 to Munich and in 1884 to Berlin. After 1890 was somewhat influenced by French Impressionism, tending to use lighter colours and a sketchier, more atmospheric technique. He later collected Impressionist pictures and published essays on Manet and Degas. An exhibition of his work as part of the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung in Berlin in 1897 led to increased recognition, and in 1899 he was made President of the Berlin Secession. From 1909 worked mainly in and around his country house at Wannsee, near Potsdam. President of the Prussian Academy 1920-33, but compelled to resign his numerous honours after the rise to power of the Nazis. Died in Berlin.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.439