L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Four Ages of Man - paintings by Ditlev Blunck, 1840-1845

Old Age.


Childhood - detail.
Youth - detail.
Maturity - detail.


Ditlev Conrad Blunck (22 June 1798, Münsterdorf, Schleswig-Holstein – 7 January 1853, Hamburg), Danish painter associated with the artistic blossoming now known as the Danish Golden Age. In 1814, at the age of sixteen, he began studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen. At the same time, along with his friend Wilhelm Bendz, he received training from Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg. Four years later he moved to Munich and enrolled in the Academy there. He remained in Munich until 1820, when he returned to Copenhagen. Under the influence of a new professor, J. L. Lund, Blunck focused on history painting during the early years of his career. Later, that focus changed to genre painting, and for that he is best remembered. From 1828 he spent much time in Germany - Berlin, Munich, Dresden - and came in contact with some of the most influential artists of the day. He also traveled to Rome during the 1830s, where he joined the group of Danish artists who surrounded the celebrated sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, and where he painted some of his major works. Back in Denmark in 1841, the threat of scandal and/or prosecution related to his homosexuality caused him to leave the country suddenly; he never returned. He died in Germany at the age of fifty-four.

These four paintings form a series and were commissioned by King Christian VIII of Denmark. Produced during this time of personal upheaval in the first half of the 1840s, they are examples of  Blunck’s mature style, one which was influenced by the “Nazarenes”, a group of primarily German artists who wished to convey "earnest" sentiments in their work in contrast, they felt, to the “exteriority” typified by French art of the time. These paintings make an interesting contrast with those featured in my recent post on Thomas Cole's "The Voyage of Life" of 1842: four paintings on the same subject, painted during the same few years. 

 A Young Artist Examining a Sketch in a Mirror, Wilhelm Bendz' well-known image of his friend, Ditlev Blunck, 1826.

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