Martinus Rørbye
A Praying Italian Woman, 1836
Oil on panel, 42 x 30 cm.
Inventory number: 0200NMK
Acquired with funding from the wills of Director Per Vilhelm & Mygge Kolbing-Nielsen with grant from New Carlsberg Foundation, 2005


During his stay in Italy in the mid-1830s, Rørbye spent a few weeks in Cervara east of Rome in the end of October. Here, he painted several oil and pencil sketches, where he used the local population as models, including this young girl who prays kneeling in a sparsely furnished room. She is finely dressed with a newly starched cape, a white embroidered shawl and a beautiful red bead necklace. In her folded hands, she holds a rosary, which emphasises her piety. Rørbye has placed her centrally in the image in a tight triangular composition that was probably a conscious choice to tone down the somewhat saccharine quality of the subject with a harmonious and more stringent painterly style.


Martinus Rørbye (1803-1848)
Rørbye was born into a Danish official family in Norway, but moved with his family to Denmark as a child. He studied at the Art Academy under C.W. Eckersberg, from whom he inherited and continued the objective and realistic approach to subject matter. Rørbye loved travel and travelled more than any of the other Golden Age painters. His travels brought him to Norway, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey, where he carried out numerous ink and oil sketches in front of the subjects for later use in paintings. In 1844, Rørbye became a professor at the Academy, but died four years later of disease.

Translator: Jennifer Russell

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