Liebermann spent the summer of 1876 in Holland. In Haarlem he copied paintings and details from paintings by Frans Hals, mainly his late works such as the Women Regents of the Old Men’s Alms House in Haarlem. On his way home to Amsterdam one day he managed to glimpse the courtyard of the city’s orphanage. He was fascinated by the lighting conditions and the colours: the dresses of the girls in the municipal colours of red and black harmonising with brick red and green, the play of light and the easy movements of the children in their enclosed sphere of activity. The similarity between their social situation and that in the 17th-century pictures he had just studied would also have struck him — his first drawing of the courtyard is on the back of one of his copies after Frans Hals. Liebermann produced an actual painting of the orphan girls later in his studio. Our oil sketch conveys the artist’s first fresh impression very accurately. It was purchased by Wilhelm Bode, the future general manager of the Berlin museums, for his private collection.