Wilhelm Marstrand 
Double portrait of the merchant Christopher Friedenreich Hage (1759-1849) and his wife Arnette, born Just (1778-1866) "May I borrow the two brown horses?", 1849-1852
Oil on canvas, 196 x 160 cm.
Inventory number: 0106NMK
Bequest from Vilhelmine Heise, b. Hage, 1912


This large double portrait depicts Johannes Hage’s grandparents, the merchant Christopher Friedenreich Hage from Stege on the island of Møn and his wife, Christiane Arnette Hage. The painting was commissioned by Alfred Hage, Johannes’ father, for the occasion of the former’s parents' golden wedding anniversary. The old married couple are depicted in a dark room with green walls. Christopher sits with a letter in his hand, still as a rock. By his foot lies the family dog Fenris, large as a horse, and before him stands his wife, 17 years younger than him, with a bonnet in her hands. She looks at her husband with a modest and sweet expression. According to the story passed down through the generations, she is asking her husband whether she can borrow the two brown horses. Christopher Friedenreich Hage died prior to the completion of this painting. Perhaps this explains his absent expression and his faithful dog’s mourning posture by his feet.


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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