“Udsigt fra våbenhuset i en landsbykirke”. View form the porch of a village church. C. 1832. Unsigned. Oil on canvas. 29×20 cm.
Thorvaldsen, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of Martinus Rørbye, 1981, no. M. 66.
Exhibited: Kunstforeningen, “Fortegnelse over M. Rørbyes arbejder”, 1905 no. 41.
Provenance: Miss J. F. Ipsen (1905). Bruun Rasmussen auction 482, 1986 no. 260.
Rørbye visited his wife Rose's family at Christianslund in Vester Egede in July 1832, and during this stay he painted several studies of the landscape with Gisselfeld and Vester Egede church.
This could be the view from the porch in Vester Egede church with a look through the open door over a thatched farm and further beyond the extensive Danish summer landscape. Is it Gisselfeld's red brick roofs you can see on the horizon? (See also cat. 11 and 26).
The open window was a popular motif in 19th-century European art. In 2012, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York held the exhibition “Rooms with a View. The Open Window in the 19th century,” here Rørbye's well-known small window painting “View from the Artist's Window” (The National Gallery of Denmark inv. no. KMS7452) from 1825 was exhibited (cat. no. 15), along with the ‘open-window’ works by Caspar David Friedrich, Georg Friedrich Kersting, I.C. Dahl, Adolph Menzel and many more.
Regarding the open window as a motif, Sabine Rewald writes in the catalogue: “In it, the Romantics found a potent symbol for the experience of standing on the threshold between an interior and the outside world. The juxtaposition of the close familiarity of a room and the uncertain, often idealized vision of what lies beyond was immediately recognized as a metaphor for unwilling longing…” (p. 3) and a little later “The enduring appeal, however, lies in the inherent self-reflection of the painted motif: the rectangular or the square shape of the canvas perfectly echoes the window as a view on to the world.” (p. 5).
The same thoughts apply to the present painting, where Rørbye has worked very consciously with the transition between the interior and the outside world.
We look out from the dark enclosed church room through the gate and into the partly illuminated porch, then further out through the open gate and into the open sunlit landscape. The view is markedly limited by the gate frame, and outside several obstacles are placed in the way of our gaze in the form of a railing, church walls, trees and rooftops, before it is able to disappear into the landscape and the horizon.
Curiously enough - and perhaps very telling - Miss J. F. Ipsen owned both this painting and the above-mentioned “View from the Artist's Window” in 1905 when they were both exhibited in Kunstforeningen.