Maria, Rome, 1837
Oil on canvas, 25 x 31 cm
Inventory number: 0252NMK
Acquired 2022 with support from New Carlsberg Foundation
Wilhelm Marstrand (1810 – 1873) painted his oil study of a female nude model, Maria, in Rome in the year 1837, just a few months after he first arrived in the city. It is a very direct and frontal depiction in which the young woman looks directly at the beholder. She holds her arms with folded hands behind her head, giving her an appearance which is both sensual and challenging, but also somewhat defenseless and insecure. Her pose has clearly been directed by the artist, making the painting an interesting subject through a modern, gender-conscious lens. A pair of slippers sit neatly by the bed, while the virtuous rosary and the picture of the Madonna with Child on the wall are complemented by a spinning wheel in the background. These props boost the painting’s sense of realism and presence, almost as in Edouard Manet’s famous depiction of Olympia some thirty years later.
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.