This intimately-scaled picture depicts a soldier and two sailors at the military citadel popularly known as Kastellet, which is situated to the north of Copenhagen’s old city. Rørbye’s teacher, Eckersberg, specialized in maritime subjects, but these figures, with their backs to the viewer and illuminated solely by moonlight, embody a sense of Romantic longing that recalls works by Dahl as well as German artists of the period.
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Title:View from the Citadel Ramparts in Copenhagen by Moonlight
Inscription: Signed with the artist's monogram and dated (far left, on post): MR / 1839
August Kruuse, Denmark (in the early-mid-19th century); his daughter, Mrs. Henry (Ebba Victoria) Krebs, Denmark, later USA; by descent, the Krebs family, USA (probably until 1996); sale, Kunsthallen, Copenhagen, May 23, 1996, no. 72, for 600,000 Danish kroner ($101,570); [Artemis Fine Arts, Inc., London, by 1997–at least 1999]; Eugene Victor Thaw, Santa Fe (by 2001–7)
New York. Artemis Fine Arts, Inc. "Selected 19th Century Paintings & Works on Paper," October 20–November 28, 1997, no. 9 (as "The Ramparts by Moonlight").
New York. Artemis Fine Arts, Inc. "Danish Paintings of the Golden Age," April 21–May 28, 1999, no. 3 (as "The Ramparts by Moonlight," lent by Mr. and Mrs. E.V. Thaw, New York).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Caspar David Friedrich: Moonwatchers," September 11–November 11, 2001, no. 18 (lent by a private collection).
Selected 19th Century Paintings & Works on Paper. Exh. cat., Artemis Fine Arts, Inc. New York, 1997, unpaginated, no. 9, ill. (color), dates it 1839; gives provenance details.
Suzanne Ludvigsen. Danish Paintings of the Golden Age. Exh. cat., Artemis Fine Arts, Inc. New York, 1999, unpaginated, no. 3, ill., and on cover (both color), calls it "The Ramparts by Moonlight" and tentatively dates it 1839, based on the inscription; compares it to a similar painting dated 1828 (private collection); suggests that it may have been commissioned from Rørbye by August Kruuse's father-in-law, H. C. Sonnin.
John Russell. "Art Review; Golden Days for Painting in Denmark." New York Times (May 14, 1999), p. E38.
Sabine Rewald. Caspar David Friedrich: Moonwatchers. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2001, pp. 54–55, no. 18, ill. (color), dates it about 1839.
Sabine Rewald in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2006–2007." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Fall 2007), p. 41, ill. (color), tentatively reads the inscription as 1839.
Esther Bell. "Catalogue Raisonné of the Thaw Collection." Studying Nature: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection. Ed. Jennifer Tonkovich. New York, 2011, p. 140, no. 117, ill. (color), calls it "View from the Citadel Ramparts in Copenhagen by Moonlight" and dates it about 1835–36.
The Danish Golden Age: Ten Drawings from Private Collections. Exh. cat., Le Claire Kunst. Hamburg, 2019, unpaginated, fig. 2 (color), under no. 3, calls Rørbye's watercolor drawing "Grenadier of Prins Christian Frederick Regiment" (1830, private collection, Hamburg) a study for the grenadier depicted in The Met's painting, as well as for the one at right in his "The Prison in Copenhagen" (1831, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen); dates The Met's picture 1835.
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Martinus Rørbye (Danish, Drammen 1803–1848 Copenhagen)
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