Dancing Italian, c. 1839
Oil on cardboard, 38 x 27 cm.
This painting of a coachman is a prestudy to the major work entitled The St. Anthony Feast Day in Rome from 1838. In the final work, the Italian coachman is struggling to get his horse and carriage going. The left wheel of the carriage has gotten stuck behind the stone doorstep to the Saint Anthony Abbot on the Esquiline. The man desperately whips his donkey, hoping it will pull the carriage free. The donkey has been brought to the church to be blessed by a priest, as was customary on the Feast Day. Saint Anthony was seen by Catholics as the protector of animals and every year on 17 January, it was customary for both the wealthy urbanites and peasants from the surrounding districts to travel to the Saint Anthony Abbot on the Esquiline to have their animals blessed. The sketch shows how Marstrand instructed his model to stand in a position that was predetermined for the final work.Download Photo »
Wilhelm Marstrand (1810-1873)
Marstrand was among C.W. Eckersberg’s students and was, as the only one, very interested in narrative and illustrative painting. Marstrand worked with genre painting, literary subjects, portraiture and, in later years, history painting. He was frequently employed as a portraitist and painted a series of portraits of members of the Hage family, among others. Marstrand travelled throughout his life in the larger European countries such as Italy, France, Germany and England. He was particularly fascinated by Italy, where he stayed for several years. From here, he became a major producer of peculiar, touching, and often humorous or ironic depictions of the Italian folk life that so fascinated him.