MARSTRAND, Wilhelm Nicolai
(b. 1810, København, d. 1873, København)
Danish painter, one of the most prominent artists of his time. A pupil of Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Denmark from 1826 to 1833, he was one of the representatives, together with some other pupils of Eckersberg, of the Danish Golden Age. Christian Waagepetersen, wine merchant to the Danish court and supporter of the arts, became an important patron for Marstrand during his early period.
In 1836 he began the first of his many travels, going to Rome, stopping on the way in Germany at Berlin, Dresden, Nuremberg and Munich. In Italy, where he stayed for four years, he painted many idealized depictions of daily life, especially festivities. He returned to Italy several times, the last visit being in 1869. He was enchanted with Italy and with the ways of life of the Italian people. He portrayed a colourful, joyous, and romantic view of them, infused with a newfound ideal of beauty. He also painted a number of portraits during this first stay in Italy. Marstrand returned to Denmark at the end of 1841.
In Denmark, Marstrand continued to apply inspiration from Italy in his paintings. He also continued to paint genre paintings, and to make sketches, caricatures, and drawings. He returned to portrait painting in the late 1850s, depicting some of the key figures of the age. During the 1850s and 1860s, he turned to religious themes but also gave renewed attention to mythology and history. He painted two remarkable great murals for King Christian IV's chapel in Roskilde Cathedral in 1864-66, both of which have contributed to this popular monarch's enduring fame.
He became a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1843, became a professor in 1848, and a director from 1853 to 1857, and later, from 1863 to his death.