The Visit of the Beggar and her Child (En tiggerkone med sit barn)
(Vilhelm Bendz)


A Beggar with her Child contains a very marked clash between the Classically constructed pictorial space – comfortably furnished but slightly untidy – and the two figures, pitiful in appearence, who quietly enter the room. This contrast creates a slight feeling of discomfort, which cannot be wholly ignored but which may not have been intentional. It displays both his brilliant technical skills and his fascination with symbolism. At first glance we see what is apparently the corner of the bedroom of a man of some style, judging from the rich, blue coat and fashionable hat thrown casually over a chair. We see his boots, one standing the other fallen, in front of a fine biedermeier armoire from the bottom drawer of which the sleeve of a shirt projects.

The morning light suggests that he has just awakened after a night of revelry. A clue that this may be the artist’s own bedroom is given by the presence of Bendz’s lithograph, The Cellarman, on the right wall and an empty frame placed above the armoire. Immediately below it there is a concave mirror; the artist’s reflection can be seen in front of his bed and armoire.

Standing in the open door and looking pleadingly at the room’s hidden occupant, whose shadow seems to fall across the floor in the foreground, we see a beggar woman in ragged dress, her small daughter standing beside her. The viewer is invited to question how she obtained entrance to his rooms and whether this was an event that the artist himself witnessed. Her presence certainly contrasts with the serenity of the light filled interior.

Although Bendz’s career was blossoming, he was far from wealthy. His circumstances, though, were evidently better than this unfortunate family seeking his aid. In its uninhibited social realism the artist has been unsparing in his judgment, while avoiding a moralizing message. The painting excited great enthusiasm from the general public as well as from Eckersberg himself, who wrote to him “your latest, small, beautiful painting many have looked upon with great pleasure and several would-be purchasers have later viewed it at my house. Would you please be so kind as to inform me with a few words (if it is for sale, and the price) since two particular collectors, who deserve something good, are impatiently awaiting your answer”.

13 1/2 inches (35cm.) x 10 1/4 (26cm.)
Oil on Canvas

PROVENANCE: Titular Councillor of State Fenger – Lady in Waiting Barnekow; Professor C. Barnekow (1905).


LITERATURE: Andreas Røder, The Painter W. Bendz, Copenhagen, 1905, p. 31; Ejner Johansson, Wilhelm Bendz, 1995, pp. 64-65, 73; Marianne Saabye, Wilhelm Bendz, A Young Painter of the Danish Golden Age 1804-1832, exhibition at The Hirschsprung Collection, Copenhagen 1996, pp 97-98, cat. no. 32.


EXHIBITED: Charlottenborg, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, 1829, no. 200; Kunstforeningen, 1833 no. 13; Raadhusudstillingen, 1901, no. 118; Statens Museum for Kunst, C.W. Eckersberg og hans Elever, 1983, no. 92; The Hirschsprung Collection, 1996, no. 32, Wilh

Where is It?
Acquired by the Musee du Louvre 2008 from the Matthiesen Gallery
Historical Period
Romanticism - 1810-1870
Genre or Daily Life
1993-Fifty Paintings 1535 - 1825.
To celebrate Ten Years of Collaboration between The Matthiesen Gallery, London, and Stair Sainty Matthiesen, New York. 216 pages, 50 colour plates, numerous black and white text illustrations £20 or $32 inc. p.& p.

(Click on image above)
Price band
Sold or not available