To this day, Hanna Hirsch-Pauli’s painting Breakfast-Time from 1887 is still able to trigger feelings of intense sensual pleasure from our visitors. “We truly feel invited; it is just like our very own breakfast ritual. The chairs are waiting for us and we can almost feel how the heavy teapot tilts as we lift it.” The table which is laid with beautiful objects gives associations to family life and domesticity. The image shows a corner of reality, where the bourgeois dining room has been removed to the garden. This is an open-air painting suffused with light. The subject is dappled with reflections that give the objects a suggestive shimmer. It is a juste-milieu painting, being at once anchored in the classicist tradition with its linear perspective, but also inspired by the way the Impressionists depicted light with colour. Like many Swedish artists at the time, Hanna Hirsch-Pauli studied in Paris and exhibited at the Salon. The use of light, the lively brushstrokes and the thickly applied paint outraged several Swedish critics at the time. They saw her technique as “slipshod” and one critic meant that the flecks of light on the table cloth were probably the result of the artist “wiping” her own brushes on it. In the late 1880s Breakfast-Time played a major role in Hanna Hirsch-Pauli’s breakthrough as an artist. Already an accomplished colourist, as we can see, she went on to develop those skills in her portrait painting.


  • Title: Breakfast-Time
  • Creator: Hanna Pauli
  • Creator Lifespan: 1864/1940
  • Creator Nationality: Swedish
  • Creator Gender: Female
  • Date Created: 1887
  • Title in Swedish: Frukostdags
  • Signature: Hanna HiRsch. 87
  • Physical Dimensions: w910 x h870 cm (without frame)
  • Artist Information: Hanna Hirsch-Pauli was a Swedish artist who focused chiefly on portraits and open-air painting. She started studying at August Malmström’s art school at the early age of 12 and then moved on to the Technical School (now Konstfack – University College of Arts Crafts and Design) in Stockholm. Hirsch-Pauli was admitted to the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in 1881, where she won a prize for her large group portrait Vid lampan in 1885. That same year, she headed off to Paris to study at the Académie Colarossi. It was through her portrait of the artist Venny Soldan that she managed to enter the Paris Salon in 1887. Hirsch-Pauli was a member of the Swedish Artists’ Association and was a frequent participant in the Nordic exhibitions of the time. She also exhibited at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1889 and Chicago in 1893. In the autumn of 1887, Hanna Hirsch married artist Georg Pauli and they eventually settled in Stockholm. At the time, marriage and being an artist were considered irreconcilable for a woman, but Hirsch-Pauli managed to combine the two. The couple had three children but, despite a large household and regular entertaining, Hirsch-Pauli still maintained her professional work. Between 1893 and 1897, the family lived in Gothenburg and the couple both taught at Valand School of Fine Art. During this period, Hirsch-Pauli was influenced by the symbolist currents of the time, but she never really abandoned the realist tradition. During the first half of the 20th century, she worked as a professional portraitist, specialising in large group portraits such as Vännerna and Handarbetets Vänners styrelse.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Nationalmuseum, Nationalmuseum
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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