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Sleeping Mother, Christian Krohg - Description of the Painting

08 May 2022

Sleeping Mother - Christian Krohg.

With this painting, Christian Krohg turned to the topic of motherhood. Most of the paintings with similar plots are traditionally characterized by sentimentality and embellishment of maternal day-to-day life. But Krohg, being a follower of naturalism, did not accept idealization in any form, and depicted only realistic scenes.

Here was can see a sleeping mother with a child, and she is tired of household chores. A dirty table, spilled porridge and a tired woman – all of these would seem very familiar to any mother, and this makes the viewer imbued with sympathy for what is taking place. The pictures on the motherhood plot were traditionally used to show a family idyll in the context of biblical and mythological stories, or just depicted an episode from the life of the nobility. But on this one, Krohg made a decision to reject such patterns, and to create the imperfect and mundane image of the mother. With this, the painter attempted to demonstrate what many do not notice - the work and difficulties faced by the ordinary women.

From a stylistic viewpoint, the painter showed himself as both an impressionist and a naturalist, although since the late 19th century these two trends used to be opposed to each other. The large and careless brushstrokes combined with pastel blue and orange colors are inherent in impressionism, and the hallmarks of naturalism are the clear contour of the silhouettes and the detail of the lighting.

In many of the works by Christian Krohg, one can easily notice the respect with which he treated women. Therefore, in his paintings, including in the "Sleeping Mother", we can observe the genuine lyricism and empathy with which female images are depicted, and the reason for that is his personal relationship with his wife, the artist Oda Krogh (nee Larson), with whom he had two children. For him, she was not just a lover, but rather a muse, and an adviser. It is quite possible that this painting depicts the wife of the master herself.
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