Wilhelm Marstrand 
Vielgeschrey's hardships, scene from L. Holberg’s "Den stundesløse," Act 1, Scene 6 (sketch), before 1850
Oil on canvas, 31 x 39 cm.
Inventory number: 0112NMK
Acquired before 1884. Bestowed to the museum in 1908


In this sketch, Wilhelm Marstrand has captured the hubbub that constantly surrounds the main character of Ludvig Holberg’s play Den stundesløse. Vielgeschrey is a stressed merchant whose imagined busyness results in him suffering a tragicomic fate. In his eagerness to live life before it is too late, he never really gets to live it. The protagonist’s name alludes to the old German expression “Viel Geschrey und wenig Wolle”, meaning “Much ado about nothing.” Marstrand has illustrated this expression with his dynamic depiction of the Holbergian spectacle. A barber has just applied shaving cream to his face while a tailor takes measurements of his clothes and a peasant tries to con him.


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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