Marstrand, Wilhelm Danish, 1810-1873
Danish painter and illustrator. He was a student of C. W. Eckersberg at the Kunstakademi in Copenhagen (1825-33). His art reflects his constant observation of the world around him, in particular middle-class society, and the narrative element dominated his pictures of crowds in the city streets. Throughout his life he sought inspiration from literature and the theatre. In his early genre painting Moving Day Scene (1831; Niv?, Nivaagaards Malsaml.) it was the popular novelty of vaudeville that interested him. The October Festival (1839; Copenhagen, Thorvaldsens Mus.) reveals how Marstrand's five-year stay (1836-41) in Italy opened his eyes to the classical ideal of beauty. It was, however, an ideal that found little response in contemporary Denmark, and he turned towards a more anecdotal and humorous approach. In Scene of Country Life (1843; Copenhagen, Kon. Dan. Kstakad.), painted as a set subject for the Kunstakademi, Marstrand took as his theme a scene from Erasmus Montanus, a play by the 18th-century Danish poet and playwright Ludvig Holberg. Thereafter Holberg's comedies provided an inexhaustible source that satisfied Marstrand's need to pursue his investigations of human character. Family life similarly interested him throughout his career, as in his Scene of Daily Life (1857; Copenhagen, Stat. Mus. Kst). Such group portraits as The Waagepetersen Family (1836; Copenhagen, Stat. Mus. Kst) show an equal concern to depict the quiet details of Danish domestic life. Marstrand continued to travel abroad in search of inspiration. His stay in Venice in 1853-4 was particularly important; his studies there of the great Venetian painters improved his understanding of the handling of colour, as seen clearly in the many historical and religious paintings of his last years. Of particular interest is his mural decoration of Christian IV's chapel in Roskilde Cathedral (1864-6) with scenes from the life of the Danish monarch. Marstrand's paintings have a certain facetiousness which often obscures a much deeper philosophical content. For this reason, it is his drawings that arouse more admiration. Portrait of the Artist Gottlieb Bindesholl 1834
Oil on canvas
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen.