Fiolinisten Ole Bull
- Artist: Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann
- Creation date: 1851
- Object type: Painting
Born 27.11.1819, death 11.07.1881
Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann was one of the female pioneers of pictorial art. She combined the life of an artist with married life and a large family.
Baumann grew up in Warsaw and studied art in Düsseldorf, the most important place in Europe to study pictorial art in the 1830s and 40s. As the art academy did not admit women, she studied privately with several of the city’s painters. In 1844 she exhibited a painting for the first time, depicting a family by their burnt house, a motif featuring a clear element of social criticism.
From Rome to Denmark
Baumann moved to Rome in 1845, where she met the Danish sculptor Jens Jerichau. When he was appointed as a professor at the art academy in Copenhagen in 1849, the couple settled in Denmark. They had nine children altogether, two of whom became artists. Baumann continued to paint while caring for her growing family.
Purchased by the British Royal Family
In addition to being a celebrated portrait painter, Baumann depicted scenes from daily life. In the early 1870s she travelled around the Middle East. Her portrayals of the harems that she visited there did not suit the taste of the Nordic countries, but in the rest of Europe her art was all the more appreciated. Queen Victoria herself purchased one of her paintings after an exhibition held at Buckingham Palace.
The collection of the National Museum includes one painting by the Danish-Polish artist: a portrait of the violinist Ole Bull, painted in 1851. At the time Bull was a world-famous celebrity at the height of his career. Bull was an enthusiastic champion of folk music, with a particular interest in traditional Norwegian music. He was also a fervent supporter of the nationalist idea that Norway should be an independent country. Through his tours in Europe and the USA he introduced the Norwegian identity to the world, and he donated a large portion of his income to Norwegian causes. He also played classical music on his tours, and was regarded as a great violin virtuoso. His own compositions were often based on Norwegian folk music. It was on the recommendation of Ole Bull that a young Edvard Grieg was given the opportunity to study abroad.
Ole Bull played both the violin and the 8-stringed Hardanger fiddle. With her portrait of Bull, Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann has also provided a “portrait” of one of his violins. It is both a distinguishing feature of Bull as a musician, and a famous instrument in its own right. Today the Salò-Cellini violin belongs to KODE Art Museums and Composer Homes in Bergen, Norway.