There is a story in this painting. I particularly like the details—the patched trousers of the gardener, the mud on his clogs, the other man’s wooden leg—juxtaposed against the lush spring garden and prosperous village life of Denmark in 1912. Their hands and clothes indicate they have stopped work to read the newspaper. Both men seem stunned. Are they perhaps reading of the death of King Frederick VIII, who died on 14 May 1912? Whatever they are reading, the cat remains undisturbed by the news.
H. A. Brendekilde was a forerunner of the social realist style, embraced by Diego Rivera. His early work often depicted the daily lives of the rural working class. One of his most famous paintings, “Worn Out” (1889) shows an elderly man lying fallen on his back in the plowed field. Has he worked himself to death? Will he recover? His entire world is this rocky barren field. A story is in this stark painting.
Credits and Attributions:
While reading the newspaper news by H. A. Brendekilde 1912 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Worn Out by H. A. Brendekilde [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons