Ditlev Blunck (1798-1854), Childhood, 1840-45
Ditlev Blunck belonged to a group of Danish Golden Age painters that looked towards contemporary German Romantic painting for inspiration. He came from Schleswig-Holstein, meaning that he was, as it were, born occupying a position between the Danish and the German.
It is likely that Childhood was created with inspiration from Romantic works that Blunck saw in Dresden. The picture formed part of a series of four symbolic representations of the stages of life, where a recurring boat motif is used to relate the story of life as a voyage from cradle to grave across changeable waters.
When the painting was exhibited in 1845 the artist offered his own interpretation:
”[The mother] carries [the child] in her arms, and carefree it floats down the brooklet of life that slowly meanders through blossoming meadows. The good and evil spirits are still deep in sleep. Psyche remains in embryo, like the butterfly in its chrysalis. The sails are rolled up tight on the mast, still coiled up and waiting like the future ahead of the child, like the world of ideas it will contain. Its world is small.”
A symbolic painting
The symbolism encompasses every aspect of the scene: From the seeds of the dandelions to the delicate light greens of the spring forest and the rays of the morning sun dispersing the fog among the trees in the background. The wide-ranging symbolism is sustained by the painstaking rendition of details.
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