Roman woman with a child. Study for The St. Anthony Feast Day in Rome, c. 1838
Oil on cardboard, 26 x 15 cm.
Inventory number: 0095NMK
Acquired before 1884. Bestowed to the museum in 1908
This study of a mother with her child shows how Marstrand based his art on living models when depicting Italian everyday life. The sketch is a pre-study for the major work entitled The St. Anthony Feast Day in Rome from 1838, which depicts a priest blessing a donkey in honour of the patron saint. The mother can be seen in the completed painting sitting on a donkey cart together with two children in front of the Saint Anthony Abbot on the Esquiline. However, she does not appear concerned with the religious ceremony nor the festivities surrounding them. Instead, she is trying hard to hold on to the child sitting at the front of the cart. In the prestudy, this child was left out and the donkey cart switched out with a chair. However, Marstrand clearly had the mother’s position in mind with regard to the composition of the final work as he depicted her sitting in the chair.
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.