Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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Mrs John Frederick Lewis by Jacob Eichholtz, 1827 US, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
I can’t be the only one who noticed that her right (our left) sleeve is teal at the bottom near the wrist.
Bella and Hanna, the Eldest Daughters of M L Nathanson by C W Eckersberg, 1820 Denmark (Copenhagen), Statens Museum for Kunst
During the years around 1820, C.W. Eckersberg was busy painting portraits of the affluent citizens of Copenhagen. The artist’s greatest patron during his young years, the merchant Mendel Levin Nathanson, commissioned two large family portraits.
The painting’s two young girls
In one of the two works he painted Nathanson’s two oldest daughters, Bella and Hanna, in a sparingly furnished drawing room with simple panelling and furniture, including a table bearing a parrot’s cage.
The two girls are shown in uncompromising poses – one strictly frontal, the other strictly from the side – and as they look very much alike, it seems likely that the painter wished to create a variation on a theme; variations like those created by the famous Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen around the same time.
Symbolic readings of the painting
The parrot opens up the scene to symbolic readings. Due to their ability to imitate human voices parrots were often seen as symbols of good breeding, a suitable allusion for a picture of two young middle-class woman. At the same time, however, the caged bird can also be regarded as a metaphor for the two unmarried women’s sheltered situation while waiting – perhaps longing? – to move out into real life.
Parrots were featured in depictions of the Annunciation, since they’re foreign and exotic in most of Europe and Israel is an foreign place so parrots seemed fitting (even if they don’t actually live there). This led to an association with the Virgin Mary, seen with a parrot in works such as Jan van Eyck’s 1434 Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele. From this comes a broader association with mothers and motherhood. Something to think about.
Mädchen vor dem Lottogewölbe by Peter Fendi, 1829 Vienna, the Belvedere
The title means something like “girl in front of the lottery vault”.
Mrs Elizabeth Wurtz Elder and Her Three Children by Jacob Eichholtz, 1825 US (Philadelphia?), Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
I can’t get over how cute that fur bonnet is. I’m just going to pretend that it’s faux fur, even though it didn’t exist yet.
Mrs A von Winiwarter With Her Son by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, 1829 Germany, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Click for a giant version.
Countess Széchenyi by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, 1828, Cleveland Museum of Art
What a darling bird! He would fit right in on Fat Birds (whose last post actually looks just like him at the time of my writing this).
A lady in a white dress and shawl before a Viennese landscape (19th century). Workshop of Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (Austrian, Romantic, 1793–1865). Oil on canvas.
Waldmüller was a representative Biedermeier painter. The Biedermeier period in art was a transition between Neoclassicism and Romanticism as it was interpreted by the bourgeoisie. The rising middle class’s cultural interests in books, writing, dance, and poetry readings were subject matter for Biedermeier painting, which was either genre or historical and most often sentimentally treated.