The Flax Barn at Laren is one of Liebermann’s main works among his large-scale paintings of groups of people and workers from the 1880s. At the time, Holland was an important destination for Liebermann and his contemporaries. They saw Rembrandt and Frans Hals as their artistic role models, and by working directly from observation of their subjects, they learned to leave their dark studios and to shake off the fetters of Munkácsy’s working methods. In addition, in Holland they found the ideal of a bourgeois society and a solid social structure put into practice. At the time, plein air painting was still confusingly modern, but The Flax Barn at Laren was all the more offensive for the scale of development of its subject matter. In a bright, low, yet extensive shed, all the figures are performing the same task, spinning flax. By the wall under the windows, there are children using flywheels to wind the flax onto spindles. Women and girls stand spaced throughout the room, each with a bundle of flax under her arm, spinning the thread with her hands. The scene is marked by its strong, even rhythm; in their structure the parallels of the floorboards and the beams strengthen the harmony of the work. The women stand in the space like “pillars”. The work depicts the calm of everyday life — and a sense of permanence in the monotony of constantly repeated movements. The colours are also without dramatic contrasts, reserved and cool. That peculiarly Dutch, pale, silvery-grey light, which Liebermann loved so much, permeates the scene. Above all it is the light here, in all its various reflections, that underlines the life and beauty of the scene — an everyday poem, calm and composed.