Laurits Andersen Ring (1854-1933), The Artist's Wife, 1897
L.A. Ring was married in 1896, the year before he painted this portrait of his wife, Sigrid Kähler (1874-1923). At that time he was 42, while she was 22. Thus, it seems natural to join several other art historians in interpreting this image as a declaration of love for the artist’s pregnant wife, with the promise of spring acting as a symbol of the consummation of love.
Life and death in the painting
With so much new-found happiness, hope, and flowering plants gathered in one place it seems as though the awareness of the opposite of life, death, becomes the underlying theme or perhaps the experience that Ring attempts to handle or exorcise with his painting.
An experience that Ring, an atheist, expressed in many works. Here, he addresses the theme by contrasting Sigrid’s belly against stunted, gnarly branches. A reminder of the fragility that also encompasses the budding life sensed in both man and nature.
The perception of women
This painting joins the ranks of many other monumental portraits of women and wives created by Danish
artists in the decades around 1900. Pictures that speak of a perception of women that is gradually liberating itself from the Romantic era’s celebration of the Mother – a view of women that recoiled from both the female body and intellect – towards a more independent, quietly confident and composed type of woman that unites both body and brains.
Close-up or another view
Here you can zoom-in on the work for a close-up view of all of the details. - Or you can gain a new understanding about the work by watching films where researchers, conservators and artists talk about the work from their viewpoint.
Zoom and see the details
Laurits Andersen Ring (1854-1933), The Artist's Wife, 1897.
Another view of the work – see the film
Our conservator Troels Filtenborg tells about L.A.Ring' s painting: The Artist's Wife.
Camera and editing: Martin Pedersen
Contributory: Troels Filtenborg