Wilhelm Marstrand 
Child learning to walk, before 1859
Oil on cardboard, 25 x 34 cm.
Inventory number: 0105NMK
Acquired before 1904. Bestowed to the museum in 1908


While many of the Danish Golden Age painters used their stay in Rome to study nature and ancient works of art, Marstrand’s attention was fully devoted to the life and labours of the Italian people. The artist enjoyed depicting snapshots from the passionate everyday life of ordinary Italians rather than studying the Pompeian paintings of old, to which many of his colleagues dedicated their time. This prestudy depicts a scene from a typical Italian family’s everyday life. Beneath the shade of a pergola, a little girl stretches out her arms in an inviting gesture towards her little brother. Her mother tries to support the little brother as he takes his first steps while holding her third child in her other arm. To the left sits an abate on a stone bench with his hands in his pockets, while in the doorway a boy is engrossed in his book.


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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