“En qvindelig Figur, som staar ved en Seng, reder sit Haar”. Woman standing at a bed, combing her hair. Unsigned. Oil on canvas laid on panel. 28,5×18,5 cm.
Provenance: Eckersberg's estate auction, “A collection of paintings, sketches and drawings belonging to the estate of the late professor at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Eckersberg, Knight of the Dannebrog, going to be sold at a public Auction, and to be held in the Art Association's premises Tuesday the 17th of January 1854 and the following days, payment to attorney Winther, Amagertorv No. 38, 2nd Floor.”, no. 106.
On the reverse an old label with the following information (in Danish): “A female figure, which stands at a bed, combing her hair. Eckersberg's list of models and other topics 1854 catalogue no. 106”. On the stretcher also an old label from Winkel & Magnussen and cat. no. 24.
Eckersberg has often been called both “the father of the Danish Golden Age of Art” and “the father of the Danish art of painting”. Regardless, it is at least certain that he pioneered the use of female nudes in Danish painting. When Eckersberg was appointed professor at the Academy in 1820, it was neither allowed nor condoned to use a naked woman as a model for a painting. The French sculptor Saly had forbidden this when he became director of the newly opened Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1754. Eckersberg did not begin to use female nudes in his private teaching until 1833, and with the so-called “summer exercises” in 1839 he initiated the use of female nudes in his public teaching at the Academy. Eckersberg, however, had worked with the female nude on his own before this, for instance during his stay in Paris between 1810–13. The small study in question is probably an early piece. It is both similar to and different from Eckersberg's most famous one: "Kvinde foran et spejl (Woman before a Mirror) from 1839 (the Hirschsprung Collection), where Eckersberg successfully managed to make the painting more “appropriate” by covering the essential parts of the woman’s body with the edge of a mirror and a white cloth respectively. In both paintings, the young woman is doing her toilette, so the nudity seems almost natural.