Tag Archives: H.A. Brendekilde

#FineArtFriday: While reading the newspaper by H. A. Brendekilde 1912

Artist: H. A. Brendekilde  (1857–1942)

Title: While reading the newspaper news

Date: 1912

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 61 cm (24 in); Width: 85 cm (33.4 in)

Inscriptions: Signature and date bottom right: H. A. Brendekilde / 1912

What I love about this painting:

There is a story in this well-executed painting. I particularly like the details: the patched trousers of the gardener, the mud on his clogs, the other man’s wooden leg— I like the way they are 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.


Credits and Attributions

While reading the newspaper  by H. A. Brendekilde 1912 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:H. A. Brendekilde – Mens du læser avisen nyheder (1912).jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:H._A._Brendekilde_-_Mens_du_l%C3%A6ser_avisen_nyheder_(1912).jpg&oldid=300367623 (accessed February 5, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Worn Out by H. A. Brendekilde

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. I included this piece in a post on March 30, 2018, but I wanted to look more closely at it today.

Brendekilde’s genius shows in the way he depicts the central subject. The rocky, barren field is immense, nearly blending with the sky. Dirt and rocks dominate this painting–Dirt on their clothes, small rocks embedded in the soil, larger rocks gathered into piles to be carted from the field–this man’s life was the soil, hard and rocky though it was. Yet he clung to it, working to clear the rocks until he could go no further.

I love the detail in this painting. It’s easy to see how their day began: the man and woman spent the morning picking rocks from a field and making small piles of them, preparatory to plowing the field. Then, something happened. A heart attack? A stroke? One of the man’s clogs has fallen off his foot, lost when he stumbled and fell. The stones he was picking up and carrying in his apron have tumbled to the ground beside him.

Farming is working in the dirt, and dirt clings to his clothes. The woman wears a dress that has been patched many times, the loose, dry soil on her garments show she too has been picking rocks all morning. Is she his daughter? Or perhaps his wife? Even if only a friend, she is terribly concerned for him.

They are nearing the end of their winter stores and the first new vegetables have yet to be planted. Has he worked himself to death? Will he recover?

This old man’s entire world is this rocky barren field.  As I said in my earlier piece, a story is told in this stark painting.


Credits and Attributions:

Worn Out by H. A. Brendekilde [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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