Scene from Ludvig Holberg's comedy “Det Lykkelige Skibbrud” (The Happy Shipwreck). Unsigned. Oil on canvas. 95×135 cm.
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek owns another version of this painting (90×127 cm). The composition itself is the same, but both the interior of the courtroom and the persons depicted are different.
Nivaagaard owns a sketch of the scene, which has both similarities and differences with the one at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and the present painting.
Literature: Karl Madsen, “Wilhelm Marstrand”, 1905 p. 286–287 (in Danish): “It is clear from many sketches and drawings that Marstrand has prepared the composition for his large painting of “Det Lykkelige Skibbrud” with great care. It was not possible for him to construct a scene in a poor way, but he often worked a long time and put a lot of thought into making a good composition better". Here Karl Madsen recounts a longer description of how Marstrand has placed the different persons in the courtroom. Especially the posturing officer wearing the hat with a plume and the haughty noble lady have been given prominent positions in the painting.
Marstrand presents the final scene, where everyone gets together in the courtroom to hear the judge pronounce his verdict over Rosiflengius. He is sentenced to walk through the city wearing the “Spanish cloak”, which consisted of a barrel with a hole in the bottom, large enough to fit a head through it. The barrel was placed over people who had been the cause of public unrest such as prostitutes and the like. The punishment consisted of having the sinner either led through the streets of the city, as Rosiflengius in Ludvig Holberg's comedy “Det Lykkelige Skibbrud”, or placing the sinner near the church door during the service. Here the sinner would become the object of ridicule for the churchgoers arriving and leaving.
Rosiflengius was a person who praised excessively and without critical judgment. Rosiflengius means “praise-at-random”. He is punished for this!