This painting brings together two major figures in German art in the early 20th century: the artist Lovis Corinth and the writer and art critic Julius Meïer-Graefe. The former, born in East Prussia in 1858, received a cosmopolitan education. Until 1911, he produced symbolist painting with a post-romantic tinge. His technique revealed the influence of French Naturalists such as Dagnan-Bouveret, who was one of Corinth's teachers in Paris. After 1911 and an apoplectic fit which radically upset his life, his brushstrokes and palette changed, sometimes achieving a spirited style which prefigured expressionism. From then on, his long brushstrokes modelled or fragmented forms which were lit up with a subtle range of colours as in this portrait.
The model, Julius Meïer-Graefe, was born in Hungary in 1867 and had been a major figure in Berlin society since 1895, when he founded the magazine Pan. Meïer-Graefe's cosmopolitism and his magazine kept German artists and art lovers up-to-date on the arts in Europe; he also introduced them to Impressionism and its later developments, which became the ferment of new ideas and new approaches to art.