barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


JOHAN CHRISTIAN DAHL (1788–1857)

A Mother and Child by the Sea

Dresden, 1840
Oil on canvas

21 x 31 cm

 

A mother and child welcome home a fishing boat, presumably containing the child’s father.

The combination of the magical light effect and the fact that so much remains hidden encourages different interpretations.

Dahl’s father was a fisherman in Norway and so perhaps we are looking at a childhood memory of loss and reconciliation. Then again, 1840 saw the death of Dahl’s mentor and friend the German romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich. The landscape may therefore have been painted as a homage to Friedrich, using elements taken from his works.

 

Purchased 2002 with financial assistance from the
Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Art Collections Fund, Resource/Victoria
and Albert Purchase Grant Fund and R. D. Turner Charitable Trust (No. 2002.5)

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