RODSTENSEJEE, WITH COUNT EMIL VON HOLSTEIN-RATHLOU
Signed l.r. Holger H Jerichau
Oil on canvas
40 x 57 cm
The subject of the present work was one of Denmark's grandest and most extravagant aristocrats of the latter half of the 19th century. Born to wealthy parents, Emil (1849-1919) was known for his lavish lifestyle and his extensive seafaring, spending years aboard his ships in Danish waters and as far away as Alexandria and the Mediterranean. He was notorious for throwing parties and hunts for his friends and peers, who included members of the Danish Royal Family.
He had a particular passion for hunting, which was part of the reason he purchased the backdrop to the present work: the 14th century estate of Rodstensejee, in Jutland (Northeast Denmark). He was made Court Huntsman to Christian IX in 1878, co-founded the Danish Hunting Association and served on its board between 1892-1897 and became a Knight of Dannebrog in 1896. Emil married Sophie Dagmar Elisabeth Jerichau, the artist of the present work's sister, in 1878, and our painting could either have been a gift on the occasion of the wedding or a later commission by the artist's brother-in-law. A portrait of von Holstein-Rathlou is also known to have been painted by Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann, the present artist's mother (sold at Bruun Rasmussen, Copenhagen, 2011).
Holger Hvitfeldt Jerichau was something of an adventurer himself. He was the son of the aforementioned Elisabeth Baumann, a portrait painter, and Jens Adolf Jerichau, an art professor and sculptor. His brother was the talented landscape painter Harald Jerichau, also an avid traveller who died prematurely. Holger learnt painting from his Mother and, unlike his brother Harald, did not attend any art schools in his youth. Instead, his Mother provided important introductions to the Russian Court, which started him on his lifelong perambulations around Europe and the Near East. He specialised in landscapes, primarily in Italy, Egypt, India and Russia, spending comparatively little time in his home country of Denmark. He lived in Capri for a period, moved on to Crimea, and thence to India (spending time in Dhar, Bombay and in the Indian Jungle reputedly) via Egypt and the Suez canal.