Friendships and portraits in the age of romanticism: Reflections on eight portraits by C. A. Jensen
Friendships play an important part in our lives, but few of us think about how the cultural convention of friendship makes us act. Studies of the nineteenth century show that during the period of German romanticism it became fashionable amongst poets, writers, and artists to celebrate and visualize friendships. In the 1810s, Rome seemed the perfect incubator for young artists forming friendships and cultivating artistic communities. The most remarkable output of the painter C. A. Jensen’s Italian sojourn, starting in 1818, was eight small portraits of his circle of friends. These portraits reflect the importance of fellowship, of networking amongst friends and also what Rome meant to young artists in terms of finding one’s artistic identity. The aim of this article is to illuminate how a romantic culture of friendship influenced C. A. Jensen’s decision to paint his circle of friends at Rome. Taking Jensen’s portraits as its point of departure, the article touches upon some artistic and sociological aspects of friendships in the age of romanticism.
Copyright: The authors and Aarhus University Press