Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1783-1853), Langebro, Copenhagen, in the Moonlight with Running Figures, 1836
Why do all these people come running? Has someone fallen in the water, or is there a fire?
In his diary Eckersberg simply described the picture as “a small painting showing a moonlit night by the full moon. The subject is Langebro with running figures".
The story in the painting
Perhaps he deliberately played on the fact that many of the exhibition guests of the day would have read Carl Bernhardt’s novel The Coach from that same year; its dramatic high point takes place on Langebro when a young woman wishes to drown herself, but is saved by the male protagonist.
An enigmatic scene
Here, Eckersberg has tried out all his ideas about space, structure, and light and shadow in a painting. Thus, it reflects the principles that he passed on to his Academy students. Yet he also created an enigmatic scene, keeping its story secret.