Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 129

[

JULIUS EXNER
   ‒    
 .
Portrait of the

-Year-Old Gudrun Reading,

(Portræt af den

-årige Gudrun læsende)
Oil on canvas,
½
x
½
in. (

x

cm)
Signed lower right: Exner

       :
Bruun Rasmussen, Auction

,

, lot

, ill.
I
n

, Julius Exner exhibited a picture at Charlottenborg entitled
En lille pige læser sine lektier (A Lit-
tle Girl Doing Her Homework).
The whereabouts of this picture is unknown, nor do we have any infor-
mation concerning its motif, materials or measurements, and we do not know whether the child doing
her homework in that painting was dressed in national costume.
However, shortly after the turn of the century, Professor Exner took up the motif again. A little girl
engrossed in a book or deep in her own thoughts and holding the book in her hand appears repeatedly
in the work of his later years. The model seems to be the same in each case, a girl called Gudrun. She
fi
gures in the two paintings in the Loeb collection, in which she is nine and thirteen years old
respectively.
The
fi
gures in Julius Exner’s numerous portrayals of everyday life all appeared in colourful local
costume, intended to underline the national romantic idea behind the picture. But Gudrun was painted
wearing her own clothes and apparently always in the professor’s residence at Charlottenborg, in the
artist’s own home, not only in his studio.
Who was Gudrun? We do not yet know. Her name has just come to public attention on account of
the appearance of the present work. The reverse of the picture carries a pencilled inscription: “Gudrun

år” (Gudrun

years old)—nothing else. Enquiries of the artist’s great grandson, a well-known Dan-
ish architect, con
fi
rmed the idea that a nine-year-old Gudrun was painted in the professorial residence,
but at the same time disproved the theory that she was a member of the family, not even a grandchild.
¹
According to census returns, Gudrun was not a member of any of the other families then living in the
Charlottenborg complex with the Kongens Nytorv
address.
²
And yet Gudrun must have been a fre-
quent visitor to Julius Exner and his wife Inger Henriette Sophie Jensine Ringsted, over a period of four
or
fi
ve years or more. The serious little girl in her warm winter dress and white school apron must have
been a familiar and much appreciated model for the artist.
By way of contrast to the

picture in which a great deal has been made of the interior in which
she is sitting, Gudrun is here seen alone against a dark maroon background, which allows attention to
be concentrated on her dainty
fi
gure and gives the viewer the opportunity of taking pleasure in the
many carefully blended colours used, from the dust blue, olive green and black harlequin pattern of
the sleeves of her dress to her lustrous brown hair, which corresponds to the leather binding of the
book. The shadows from the many folds in the apron and the exquisite work in it point the way to the
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