Monday, 10 September 2012

Laurits Andersen Ring and At Breakfast

'At Breakfast' (1898) by Laurits Andersen Ring; Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

Today the choice was easy because as soon as I saw this painting while googling the images of the paintings by Danish artist Laurits Andersen Ring, born on 15 August 1854 and died on 10 September 1933 (see the Danish Wikipedia page for the exact date details), I recognised this image from my calendar of women reading in art. The calendar is no longer in use because it's last year's but I have kept it and this is one of the images that I would like to frame and hang in my kitchen. I had never heard of this Danish artist before but Ring was one of the most important Danish Symbolist painters of the turn of the 20th century. He was also a pioneer in social realism in Denmark. He was born in the village Ring and later on adopted the name of his native village to avoid confusion in names when he held an exhibition with his friend Hans Andersen. Having studied at the Danish Academy of Arts and briefly with painter Peder Severin Krøyer, he had his first exhibition in 1882. This was a period of political turmoil in Denmark and Ring began to care deeply for the poor and their social situation. In 1896 he married the painter Sigrid Kähler who had posed for some of his paintings. He was 42 years old at the time and she only 21. They had three children before Kähler died at the age of 49. I think his marriage must have been a happy one. In today's painting, we see a lovely depiction of the artist's wife while sitting and reading the newspaper at the breakfast table. The whole atmosphere of the painting, with the sunlit garden in the background, breathes an air of calm. Ring had obviously wanted to stage such a peaceful scene as a setting for his wife. We see myrtle branches forming a crown above her head. This tree is a symbol of love according to Greek mythology. In Denmark twigs of myrtle are used to adorn the bride at wedding ceremonies. This painting is clearly an indication of the artist's love for his wife. Like this one, called The Artist's Wife. I'm a romantic at heart and like both paintings very much.

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