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Kersting's small paintings of lone figures reading, writing, or doing needlework are regarded as his finest. Ever since this work was first exhibited in Weimar in 1811, it has been widely praised for its hushed atmosphere, even tonality, and masterly technique. The poet J. W. von Goethe (1749–1832) was among the artist's early admirers in Weimar and also a close friend of Louise Seidler (1786–1866). Seidler was an artist in her own right, but is shown here embroidering. The artist painted two other versions of the work, in 1817 and 1827.
Caspar David Friedrich, Germany's most important Romantic painter, was fond of placing pensive figures in the foreground of his landscapes. Seen from the back, these figures served as representations of Romantic yearning. In this rare interior, a young woman looks out of the artist's studio in Dresden, which faced the river Elbe. It is probably Friedrich's wife, Caroline Bommer (1793–1847), who appears here in the artist's only painting of her.
After Kersting moved to Meissen in 1818 and became director of painting at the porcelain factory, his interiors focused on his wife, Agnes. Here, she stands in front of a mirror plaiting her long brown hair. Even though we are secretly observing a woman at her toilette who feels unobserved, there is none of the eroticism usually found in the subject.
The Norwegian Dahl moved to Dresden in 1818 and remained there until his death. His friendship with Caspar David Friedrich became even closer when they lived in the same house, facing the river Elbe. Dahl did not want to copy his friend's window views of the river (Woman at the Window, View from the Artist's Studio, Window on the Right and View from the Artist's Studio, Window on the Left). In a clever sleight of hand, he depicted Pillnitz Castle, which, a few miles upriver, could not be seen from his studio.
Carus was a royal physician, art theorist, writer, notable scientist, and prolific painter who befriended Caspar David Friedrich in Dresden. In this unusual work, Carus provocatively blocks the view through the window with a large reversed canvas. The traditional "picture-within-a-picture" motif is replaced by a blank slate, with only the blue sky visible.
Rørbye captured this view of Copenhagen harbor with its ships and docks from his parents' house. Delightful objects, unlike those usually found in painters' studios, clutter the windowsill. The artist's fascination with these mundane objects seen in clear light characterizes the best works of the "golden age" of Danish painting.
Menzel painted this picture of his bedroom in daylight shortly after moving into a large fourth-floor apartment on Ritterstrasse, then a new street in today's Kreuzberg district of Berlin. The work belongs to a series of five that Menzel painted between 1845 and 1851 that focus on the effects of light in mostly empty rooms, such as his sitting room and that of a book dealer. He treated furniture and objects with broad brushstrokes but used precision in depicting the view of the expanding city seen through the window.
Catel and the German architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781–1841) visited Naples and its environs during September 1824. They stayed at the Albergo alla Grand Europa, which offered the view of the Bay of Naples shown here. The artist distilled the stark, often blinding contrast between the sunny Mediterranean countryside and the relatively shady interior.
The bareness of Friedrich's studio in Dresden stunned visitors, who compared it to a monk's cell. When Kersting moved to Dresden in 1810, he and Friedrich immediately became close friends. Here, the thirty-six-year-old Friedrich (1774–1840) is deeply absorbed in painting, needing no studies or sketches, working solely from his imagination. Kersting also paid homage to his mentor in two later versions of 1812 and 1814–19.
Cocherau's early death at age twenty-four explains his relative obscurity even in his native France. The green hills of Montmartre dotted with windmills and houses can be seen through the window, and a plaster bust of Apollo sits on the table. The subject of this self-portrait may be the artist's generation's sense of being torn between classical antiquity and nature.
The young woman with the drawing pad on her lap ignores the magnificent view of the picturesque old part of Paris dominated by the church Saint-Eustache. Instead, she faces the decorative still life set up in front of the window. The blandness of the arrangement implies that she is still taking lessons while the tutor is looking over her shoulder.
The walls in the artist's room are bare. Cogniet seems to have just arrived from Paris to start his five-year-long fellowship as pensionnaire at the Académie de France in Rome. The view of the villa's sunlit garden is framed by the room's dark backdrop, giving the open window the look of an outdoor oil study.
In Kersting's interiors, the bare rooms are lit either by even daylight from windows or, as here, by lamps casting dramatic shadows at night. The young woman is probably the artist's wife, Agnes. The picture was painted in Meissen, where the artist became director of painting at the famous porcelain factory in 1818 and where he remained until his death.
While working on this picture, Carus described it in a letter to a friend: "It will show how the light of the full moon shines through a thin roller blind that has been pulled over the window. I am making a big effort, and it seems to be turning out well."
Friedrich's studio in Dresden faced the river Elbe. In this work and the following work the artist focused less on the panoramic view of the Elbe than on achieving a finely tuned balance between the darkened interior and the bright outdoors. In Friedrich's sober rendering of the threshold between near and far, the Romantics discovered a metaphor for unfulfilled longing. The motif of the open window was novel at the time and greatly appealed to Friedrich's followers. They copied it and turned it into the quintessential Romantic subject.
Friedrich's studio in Dresden faced the river Elbe. In this work and the previous work the artist focused less on the panoramic view of the Elbe than on achieving a finely tuned balance between the darkened interior and the bright outdoors.
Gubernatis was an official in the Napoleonic administration who painted in his spare time. When his transfer from northern Italy to France became imminent in 1812, he painted this view of his studio. It is both an inventory and a souvenir of a beloved room he was about to leave behind.
Jakob Alt lived with his wife and seven children in idyllic Alservorstadt, then a suburb of Vienna, where he created this watercolor. It is his most famous work. Beyond the gardens in the foreground are the distant houses of Dornbach and the blue mountains of the Wienerwald.
In 1861 Moyaux won the Prix de Rome for architecture, which enabled him to spend five years as a pensionnaire at the Villa Medici. Despite the title of this watercolor, Moyaux could not see this picturesque panorama from his room but inserted it here as a souvenir of his sojourn at the villa.
Eckersberg's daughters stand in their father's studio on the ground floor of Charlottenbourg Palace in Copenhagen, which to this day houses the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. The artist reduced both figures to childlike proportions—they were twenty-one and twenty-eight years old at the time—making the window appear larger.