Wilhelm Marstrand 
Prison Scene in Rome, 1837
Oil on canvas, 62 x 50 cm.
Inventory number: 0202NMK
Acquired with funding from the wills of Director Per Vilhelm & Mygge Kolbing-Nielsen with grant from New Carlsberg Foundation, 2006


Marstrand was interested in the Italian spirit, the southern sun and intense colours. In a long series of paintings from the end of the 1830s, he depicted the Italians in both festive and everyday moments. In this scene from a prison, he has depicted a small group of inmates playing cards with two men outside the prison window. The atmosphere is relaxed; Marstrand’s Italians are humorous and carefree, and his Italy is more dream than reality. The image also includes several peculiar details that give the painting a constructed, theatrical touch, such as the Sunday dress of the two visiting card players, the little girl with a bare shoulder and a black pig on a leash, the brimming fruit basket or the small half-naked boy, who is the only figure who gazes out at the viewer.


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: Jennifer Russell

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