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Christen Købke, Portrait of Wilhelm Bendz

Key facts
Full title Portrait of Wilhelm Bendz
Artist Christen Købke
Artist dates 1810 - 1848
Date made about 1830
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 22 × 19 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1993
Inventory number NG6542
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of Wilhelm Bendz
Christen Købke

Christen Købke probably painted this portrait of Wilhelm Bendz (1804–1832) around 1830. Both men were pupils of Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.

The style and technique are typical of Købke’s early maturity, when he was beginning to move away from the influence of Eckersberg and develop a more informal style of portraiture, though one still grounded in an intensely observed realism. Holding his painter’s maulstick, with which he would have supported his hand while painting, Bendz glances inquiringly to the side, as if caught at work. The picture’s small format enhances the feeling of intimacy.

Bendz was one of the most talented artists of the generation, although his output was small due to his early death at the age of 28. Following his death, several copies were made of this portrait, which was owned by Bendz’s nephew. Købke himself painted another version of it, perhaps as a souvenir for Eckersberg.

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