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, January 19, 2018

The artist's wife - Pauline Charlotte Bendemann, by Julius Hübner, 1829.

I love this portrait, painted right before or right after the artist and his dear model wed. She's a lovely woman, the faithfully rapt dog is charming, the textures are wonderfully described and luxurious, and the details are both beautiful and a bit odd - the silver and conch shell flower pot, especially. Her artfully unnatural pose, the strong, unchecked diagonal formed by the background drapery and the golden lining of her sleeves, and the disorienting ripple and turning of the carpet add a tension to the composition, unexpected in what otherwise might be a straightforward record of the artist's beautiful beloved. But it's the color that really attracts me to this work: that glorious swathe of red damask; the green-blue, the tone shifting slightly as it moves into shadow; the subtle contrast of gold; and the carpet's reference of all three dominant colors. So wonderfully calculated and harmonious.


Preparatory sketch by the artist, 1828.

Rudolf Julius Benno Hübner (27 January 1806, Oels, Silesia (now Poland) – 7 November 1882, Loschwitz, Dresden), German historical painter of the Düsseldorf school of painting. He was also known as a poet and as the father of classical scholar Emil Hübner. Born in Silesia, orphaned by the age of eleven, at the age of fifteen he was admitted to the Königliche Kunstakademie in Berlin, and two years later he joined the studio of the painter Wilhelm von Schadow, moving with other of Schadow's students to Düsseldorf in 1826. In 1829 he married Pauline Bendemann, the sister of the painter Eduard Bendemann, and the couple left on a long journey to Italy; their first child was born in Rome. They went on to have eight children, though three would predecease them. He became a member of the Akademie der Künste Berlin in 1832, but the family resided for the most part in Düsseldorf until 1839 when they settled at Dresden, Hübner becoming a professor in the Königlichen Kunstakademie Dresden in 1841. After their move to Dresden, the couple became very close friends with Clara and Robert Schumann. (And they remained so after the Schumanns moved away; decades later, the painter would take over care and custody of the Schumann's son Ludwig, who suffered from mental illness like his father, and Clara Schumann's very last composition was dedicated to the Hübners.) He won a gold medal at the Brussels Exhibition in 1851 and was made director of the Dresdener Gemäldegalerie in 1871. He died in Dresden at the age of seventy-six; Pauline would live another thirteen years.

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