The exhibition explores what and, more importantly, how the artists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries painted. At the center is the question of what we mean when we say that a picture is "well painted". Aspects to be addressed include art training, questions of authorship, theories of color, and the quest for "pure" painting.
Starting point is a huge flower bouquet painted in three days by Lovis Corinth as a birthday present for his wife. Wilhelm Leibl in his quest for "pure" painting, cared only for the "how", not the "what" he painted. The problem of the painterly became so important around the mid-nineteenth century that it spurred early pleinair painters as well as the circle around Wilhelm Leibl to chart thoroughly innovative creative practices. Shifting the emphasis from the motif to the quality and effect of color, they also paved the way for Expressionism and the abstract art of the twentieth century.