Portrait of Maria Lehmann with her daughter, Margrethe, 1847
Oil on canvas, 102 x 95 cm
The visual artists of the 1800s often portrayed the mothers of the bourgeoisie alongside their children with references to the iconic motifs of the Virgin Mary and the Baby Jesus, preferably with the renaissance great visual artist Rafael’s Madonnas as inspiration. Marie Lehmann is portrayed here as a modern Virgin Mary: With an unfathomable look, she looks ahead – distant and unattainable – while the child is busy playing with a pearl necklace resembling a rosary. The Virgin Mary knows the fate of her child, and therefore most versions of her look wistful, as here.
Marie Lehmann is a cousin of The Nivaagaard Collection’s founder, Johannes Hage. She was married to Orla Lehmann and part of the people behind the introduction of the constitution and democracy in Denmark. Orla Lehmann commissioned this portrait of her from the painter Jørgen Roed, who completed it in 1847, shortly before the aforementioned historical events really took off. The family consisted of important patrons for the leading artists of the Danish Golden Age, as this portrait also testifies. The girl on her lap – her daughter Margrethe Lehmann – later became a feminist, married Gotfred Rode, and became the mother of the poet Helge, and the politician, Ove Rode.
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Jørgen Roed (1808-1888)
Jørgen Roed joined the Art Academy at the age of fourteen as a student of the portraitist Heinrich Hansen. He later studied under C.W. Eckersberg and for many years, he was interested in architecture painting, which he practiced during his study abroad in Italy in the period 1837-1841. Here, he also carried out many landscapes and received commissions for altarpieces from patrons at home in Denmark. After his return, he supported himself primarily as a portraitist for financial reasons, but it was the earliest paintings that would be of most significance in the future. Roed carried out numerous artist portraits, among others of Wilhelm Marstand and Herman Wilhelm Bissen.