Danish artist Emil Rosenstand depicted images of beautiful women buoyant with the joy of their time in his many paintings, illustrations and drawings.
Rosenstand originally began training as a sculptor when he attended, as many of Denmark’s creatives did, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. However, during his studies he began to realise his true passion lay in painting and draughtsmanship.
After completing his studies, Rosenstand moved to the German capital of Berlin. Here he found employment with the publication, The Flying Pages. A satirical magazine published weekly, The Flying Pages appealed to and poked fun at a middle-class, bourgeoise audience and all of their foppery and fun. Rosenstand began to depict predominantly female figures in all of their finery. In his more comical illustrations, the fashions of these ladies take on a life of their own. Muttonchop sleeves become balloons, pointed collars stick outwards like the wings of a bird in flight.
However, Rosenstand also began to cultivate a penchant for capturing the beauty of these women, and furthermore how this beauty became infused, and part of, the spirit of the age. Germany of the late 19th century was one in which promises of economic boom and social development were rife. Kaiser Wilhelm II wanted a Germany that became just as flourishing as other European countries during this Belle Epoque era.
Rosenstand’s depictions of women hold this promise of prosperity in the puckered smiles of their mouths and the cheery rosiness of their cheeks. In his paintings, their clothing is not comedy but elegantly shaped to their bodies, making them appear like graceful swans. They fill the canvas with an effusive flocking of fine fabrics as they attend social events or step out with a suitor.
In more understated paintings, there is a realism which does not take away from the joy but seems to understand more on an emotional level. A woman smiles, swamped by a black background which highlights her beauty and, most importantly, her happiness.
In later paintings, too, once the Kaiser’s reign was over and the promises seemed not to have wholly come true, Rosenstand retains the beauty which had infused his earlier works whilst grounding them in realism. A woman goes about her daily duties, the architecture around her sombrely toned, but she a sleek slip of blue fabric, her pale skin nearly luminous.
Rosenstand built a reputation for capturing the spirit of the age which was infused through bourgeoise veins. He lived and worked in Germany until his death in 1932. Today, many of his illustrations for The Flying Pages can be found in the online archives which preserve these important artefacts of a society long gone.
Born in Ausumgaard, Denmark.
Studied at the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
Moved to Germany.
Married Dorothea (Dora) Elisabeth Duhme.
Died in Dresden, Germany.