Danish artist Julius Friedlænder produced a considerable collection of genre scenes and portraits during his career as a professional painter. There's a great sense of spirit in Friedlænder’s portraits of the rising middle class in Denmark. He avoids sobriety but establishes a strong realism, his sitters are distinguished by their clothing and fashion. However, there's a lightness in his touch which adds real personality. Their eyes seem mischievous, representative of burgeoning energy.
His genre work, too, was praised for his ability to bring energy to his figures. Friedlænder was able to embody the sentimental, anecdotal depictions of everyday life that were so popular at the time. A woman empties fishing nets with a wry smile in traditional Danish dress, two lovers pose casually in a doorway.
His works inspired by his travels in Italy touch upon the whimsical. A scene of the Spanish Steps in Rome was noted for representing varying aspects of Italian life: tourists, beggars, clergymen, an artist. He also struck a sombre mood in his works following the First Schleswig War of 1848-1852. A widow mourns with a baby at her hip, a wounded soldier prostrate in bed. Throughout his career, Friedlænder was able to capture the energy of his country in his work.
Despite the many merits of his works, they were not what he desired to paint when first pursuing art. Friedlænder had received tutelage during his education from prominent Danish artist Johan Ludwig Lund (1777-1867). Lund painted more traditional, romantic, history paintings, and Friedlænder desired to do the same. However, during Friedlænder’s time at the Academy, genre and portrait paintings began to take precedence.
This was due to a growing need to represent Denmark in art, to celebrate both patriotically and individualistically the country’s identity. So much so, by the time Friedlænder began his career, and due to financial difficulties, he had to retire his brush for history paintings and instead begin a new palette for genre scenes and portraits.
Born in Copenhagen.
Enrolled at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.
Won silver medals from the Academy two years consecutively.
Sold several genre paintings to the Royal Family and to the Royal Picture Gallery.
Awarded a travel scholarship by the Academy, travelled to Paris.
Travelled to Italy.
Died in Copenhagen.