In July 1882, a well dressed gentleman arrived in Zweeloo in Drenthe. He is a German, from Berlin, of Jewish background and wealthy.
How Max Liebermann, because that’s his name, arrived in Zweeloo is unknown. Zweeloo then was a remote farmers village and Liebermann believed that ‘Ruysdael and Hobbema must have studied here, the character of their work reflects this place and since then nothing has changed’. At that time, there was no regular connection to and from Zweeloo. The stagecoach service was suspended, walking or hoping for a ride on a cart was all that was left.Liebermann stayed in the local inn of Jan and Lammechien Mensingh. He came to the village with a recommendation of his friend Jozef Israëls and his main source of inspiration were the people.
Liebermann was not the first painter to visit Zweeloo and certainly not the last.
His painting of Die Rasenbleiche attracted attention at the Salon in Paris in 1883 and inspired other painters to visit Zweeloo as well. The most well known of them was Vincent van Gogh, who came to visit Liebermann in the winter of 1883. In vain, Liebermann had left Zweeloo one year earlier! Liebermann left us sketches and paintings done in Zweeloo, Van Gogh a few sketches and a beautiful letter about his trip to Zweeloo. These two great names firmly established Zweeloo as an artist village. The Foundation Kunstenaarsdorp Zweeloo preserves the cultural heritage of the village and promotes contemporary art by organizing activities and exhibitions. The story of Liebermann in Zweeloo, the phenomenon ‘Artist Inn’ and the 19th century painters of Zweeloo are highlighted in the old local inn, where all the painters lodged and worked.