Max Liebermann - The Parrot Alley

by Alexandra Tuschka


It is probably the most famous painting of the "German Impressionist" Max Liebermann: The Parrot Alley. Through the lively brushstroke, the eye must first look for the parrots. A red macaw on the central axis on the left opens its wings; on the other side yellow-crested cockatoos and macaws rhythm the path. On it, mothers and children stroll into the picture's background. The avenue running axially towards a central vanishing point also exerts an extraordinary and natural pull on the viewer to follow it. On the right, a gentleman and his daughter have sat down on a bench to rest. One of the cockatoos looks attentively over them the happening. The action is crowned by treetops, which cover this rather, however, delicately than imposingly.

Max Liebermann discovered the subject of the painting in the summer of 1901, when he visited the Amsterdam Zoo. In 1902, after numerous studies on site and a first painting version, this main work was created. At that time, as today, Parrot Alley was located directly at the entrance to the zoo and introduced visitors to another world.


Max Liebermann's late work is characterized by the influence of his travels in Holland. The painters of the 17th century, above all Frans Hals, influenced Liebermann's way of painting and led him to a more spontaneous, freer ductus . Of course, in Germany there can be only limited talk of Impressionism. Nevertheless, the motivation to capture the moment with shimmering, tiny brushstrokes; the dissolution of forms through color and light reflections is very much expressed in this work. However, the modeling of figures and objects as well as spatial staggering and the laws of perspective are not neglected by the German painters. Here Liebermann's palette is brighter than in the early works. Except for the colorful accents of the macaws, the color scheme plays out in gray, brown and beige.


Max Liebermann - The Parrot Alley

Oil on canvas, 1902, 88 x 72.5 cm, Kunsthalle in Bremen