Wilhelm Marstrand 
Philemon and his prosecutors. Scene from Det lykkelige skibbrud by Holberg, Act 5, Scene 9 (sketch for painting with the same subject, 1859), c. 1859
Oil on canvas, 34 x 38 cm.
Inventory number: 0113NMK
Acquired before 1884. Bestowed to the museum in 1908


Like his old teacher C.A. Lorentzen, Wilhelm Marstrand worked on illustrations for Ludvig Holberg’s plays. This sketch depicts a scene from Det lykkelige skibbrud, where the poet Philemon is brought before a court for his satirical poetry. He is later acquitted by the judge, and the conclusion is that satire makes a contribution to society rather than having a detrimental effect. This was also part of Marstrand’s motivation behind illustrating Ludvig Holberg’s satirical plays. Marstrand believed in the educational effect of art, and in Holberg’s popular comedies, he found subjects that also had an educational impact.


Wilhelm Marstrand (1810-1873)
Marstrand was among C.W. Eckersberg’s students and was, as the only one, very interested in narrative and illustrative painting. Marstrand worked with genre painting, literary subjects, portraiture and, in later years, history painting. He was frequently employed as a portraitist and painted a series of portraits of members of the Hage family, among others. Marstrand travelled throughout his life in the larger European countries such as Italy, France, Germany and England. He was particularly fascinated by Italy, where he stayed for several years. From here, he became a major producer of peculiar, touching, and often humorous or ironic depictions of the Italian folk life that so fascinated him.

Translator: The translation agency Diction – J. Niclas B. Jensen

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