In addition to the portrait of the young Marie Triepcke, the museum has also acquired a still life by Bertha Wegmann (1846–1926), who combines the popular 19th-century genre of flower painting with a composition of artist’s tools.
From sought-after portrait painter ...
Portrait of Marie Triepcke, 1885, demonstrates why Wegmann was such a sought-after portrait artist. She preferred to paint portraits of women, particularly women she knew closely. Triepcke took lessons from Wegmann in 1883–85, and the painting clearly shows the influence from Wegmann’s sojourn in Paris, where she became acquainted with the impressionist artists’ preferred topics and coloured shadow effects.
The highly detailed still life Interior with a bunch of wild flowers, the artist’s paint box, a palette and a half-smoked cheroot, ca. 1882, shows that Wegmann’s mastery extended beyond portrait paintings. The individual elements in the composition are painted with exceptional virtuosity.
‘By adding the new pieces to the museum’s collection, we are helping to secure Bertha Wegmann the professional and public interest she deserves. The paintings not only hold invaluable significance for the Hirschsprung Collection but will be important for all visitors and the entire museum world in Denmark and for the current rewriting of Danish art history with a renewed focus on works by women artists. In our opinion, Wegmann may well be on the threshold of an international breakthrough,’ says the museum’s director, Gertrud Oelsner.
... to oblivion
As one of the most significant Danish realist portrait painters, Wegmann was one of the few female artists to achieve acknowledgement, acclaim and success in her lifetime. After P. S. Krøyer’s death in 1909, she was unrivalled in her field. However, portraiture was not the only genre Wegmann pursued. The Hirschsprung Collection thus also includes examples of Wegmann’s urban scenes, landscapes and still lifes.
Despite this broad scope and her contemporary recognition, like many of her female colleagues, Wegmann has been underrecognized in recent art history. Her artistic practice and oeuvre have received limited research interest, and so in recent years, the Hirschsprung Collection has been undertaking a dedicated effort to reinstate her to her rightful place in Danish art history. As part of this endeavour, the museum has since 2017 been making a targeted effort to purchase additional pieces by Wegmann, and today, the collection includes as many of ten of her paintings. The museum is further preparing an exhibition about the artist scheduled to open in spring 2022.