Liebermann painted numerous portraits throughout his life, including many of friends and acquaintances living in Berlin. Professor Richard Cassirer was born in 1868 in Breslau and was Professor of Neurology at Berlin University between 1912 and 1925, the year of his death. His brother Paul Cassirer, a prominent art dealer, commissioned this portrait on the occasion of Richard Cassirer's fiftieth birthday. Cassirer sat for the portrait in Liebermann's studio, which was in the attic of his Berlin house right next to the Brandenburg Gate. It was shown during the summer of 1918 at the Free Secession exhibition.