- Carl Holsøe
- Mother and Child at the table
- signed C. Holsøe (lower left)
- oil on canvas
- 29 5/8 by 26 7/8 in.
- 75.2 by 68.2 cm
Enormously popular in his native Scandinavia and throughout the rest of Europe during his lifetime, Holsøe had studied with Vilhelm Hammershoi at the Royal Academy of Copenhagen and, together with Peder Ilsted, they formed the Danish School of Interior Painting. Their influence on one another is palpable in works such as Mother and Child at the Table. It epitomizes the effects for which they are most celebrated: an atmosphere that is dense, introspective, and immensely alluring to a modern aesthetic.
Holsøe has lingered over an intelligent play of tonal grays and effectively uses reflected light to imply a closed space. While these paintings typically depict fashionable middle-class interiors, objects are juxtaposed to create a kind of narrative or portrait of the subject, elevating them beyond simple decoration.
Appearing here and in many of Holsøe's other paintings is an Anatolian kilim which is traditionally knotted with symbols that narrate the life story of its female weaver. Its inclusion may parallel the subject of these paintings who typically have their backs turned, yielding their identity to the imagination or projection of the viewer. Working in Denmark in the late nineteenth century, Holsøe had likely embraced the literature of Soren Kierkegaard and perhaps Mother and Child at the Table, and many other works in his output, employ and contribute to the era's changing vision of the individual.