Born in Neuruppin in Brandenburg as a youth Silberberg moved with his family to Beuthen, where he was employed by the company "M. Weissenberg", a trader of magnesite. In 1920, having been made a partner and co-owner of the company, he settled in Breslau and bought a grand villa in Landsbergerstrasse 1-3. He was an active participant in the cultural life of the city and a co-founder of the Jewsih museum. In 1940 Silberberg's estate and property was subject to arization by Nazi authorities and a year later both he and his wife were sent to a concentration camp in Leubus. Both were later killed in Auschwitz.
Silberberg's painting gallery was the best of several collections of Jewish art connoisseurs in pre-war Breslau. In his acquisitions he was advised by experts of Julius Meier-Graefe's renown. In his villa Silberberg assembled excellent canvases of 19th century French artists, such as Corot, Courbet, Daumier and Delacroix. There was a sizeable group of impressionists' paintings, including Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro and Degas. The collection featured also works by van Gogh, Manet, Signac, Braque, Rodin and famous German painters - Liebermann, Kolbe, Marées and Wilhelm Leibl, favoured by the collector. He also owned a large group of sculptures by, among others, Aristide Maillol, Constantin Meunier and Henri Matisse.
Paul Abramowski, Die Sammlung Silberberg, Breslau, "Der Sammler”, (20) 1930, p. 149-153
Alice Landsberg, Eine grosse deutsche Privatsammlung. Die Sammlung Silberberg in Breslau, "Die Dame“, 16 (1930), p. 12-15
Collections de Messieurs S… et S…, Tableau Modernes, Paris, 9 Juin 1932, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris 1932
Karl Scheffler, Die Sammlung Max Silberberg, "Kunst und Künstler“, 30 (1931), p. 3-18
Gemälde und Zeichnungen des 19. Jahrhunderts aus einer bekannten schlesischen Privatsammlung und aus verschiedenen Privatbesitz, Versteigerung 141, 23 März 1935, Paul Graupe, Berlin 1935
Anja Heuss, Die Sammlung Max Silberberg in Breslau, [in:] Die Moderne und ihre Sammler. Französische Kunst in deutschem Privatbesitz vom Kaiserreich zur Weimarer Republik, Andrea Pophanken, Felix Billeter (ed.), Berlin 2001, p. 311-326.
Monika Tatzkow, Hans Joachim Hinz, Bürger, Opfer und die historische Gerechtigkeit. Das Schicksal jüdischer Kunstsammler in Breslau, "Osteuropa”, 56 (2006), p. 155-171
Monika Tatzkow, Max Silberberg (1878-1945) Breslau, [in:] Melissa Müller, Monika Tatzkow, Verlorene Bilder, verlorene Leben Jüdische Sammler und was aus ihren Kunstwerken wurde, München 2008
The financial crisis forced Silberberg to sell off a portion of his collection already in 1932. After the Nazis' rise to power, when his spacious villa on the outskirts of Südpark was sequestered, he had to part with the rest of his collection as well. 50 most valuable paintings and drawings were auctioned at Paul Graupe's on March 23, 1935. Further auctions were arranged at the same auction house on October 12 (drawings), December 12-14 (books), December 21 (sculptures and applied arts items) and January 7, 1936 (the rest of his library).
- Magdalena Palica