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A Funeral

Frants Henningsen1883

SMK - Statens Museum for Kunst

SMK - Statens Museum for Kunst

A pregnant woman and her two small children are following their husband/father to his grave. A thoroughly tragic situation that Henningsen has chosen to accentuate with gloomy winter weather, a meagre gathering, and the woman’s greyish-white complexion.

A burial among the poor, conducted at the Assistens graveyard in the Nørrebro area of Copenhagen. At first glance, the painting seems to be a realistic record of a tragic, life-changing event. However, the artist has employed a number of effective devices in order to intensify the unhappy story. The gloomy winter weather, the naked wall, the small number of people in the gathering, the children in the middle, the greyish-white complexion of the young woman’s face. She even appears to be pregnant and now only has her old father to lean on. Every device is brought to bear in order to accentuate the hopelessness of the situation. Henningsen received a great deal of praise for the painting, which was immediately bought by the National Gallery of Denmark. However, a few critics would like to have seen more intimacy and credibility. Perhaps this is because the painting leaves us as spectators, as an audience, like the two men in the middle distance who are safely distanced from the family. Rather than a rousing call to arms against social injustice, the artist delivers a touching story from everyday life to move the many citizens of Copenhagen as they visited the major exhibitions of the day.

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Details

  • Title: A Funeral
  • Creator: Frants Henningsen
  • Date Created: 1883
  • Værktekst: En gravid kvinde med to små børn følger manden og faderen til graven. En gennemført ulykkelig situation, som Henningsen har valgt at understrege med trist vintervejr, et lille følge og kvindens gråhvide ansigtsfarve. Et fattig begravelse på Assistens Kirkegård på Nørrebro. Tilsyneladende en virkelighedsnær registrering af en skelsættende, sørgelig begivenhed. Maleren har dog valgt at benytte sig af nogle ret effektive greb for at understrege den ulykkelige historie. Det triste vintervejr, den nøgne mur, det lille følge, børnene i centrum, den unge kvindes gråhvide ansigtsfarve. Hun synes oven i købet at være gravid og har nu ikke andre end den gamle far at støtte sig til. Alt mobiliseres for at understrege det trøstesløse i situationen og omstændighederne. Henningsen fik meget ros for sit billede, der også med det samme blev erhvervet af Statens Museum for Kunst. Men enkelte kritikere savnede nærvær og troværdighed. Måske fordi man som beskuer efterlades som tilskuer, som de to mænd i mellemgrunden på tryg afstand af familien. I stedet for social indignation leverer maleren en rørende novelle fra hverdagslivet, som kunne bevæge de mange københavnere, som gæstede byens store udstillinger.
  • Teknik: Olie på lærred
  • Proveniens: Køb 1883
  • Provenance: Acquired 1883
  • Physical Dimensions: w141.5 x h95 cm (Without frame)
  • Dansk link: http://www.smk.dk/index.php?id=2368
  • Dansk Titel: En begravelse
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Statens Museum for Kunst, http://www.smk.dk/en/copyright/creative-commons/
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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