Pelagio Palagi: Diana the Huntress, c. 1828-30

The model was possibly the ballerina and mistress of Count Girolamo Malfatti Carlotta Chabert, whom Francesco Hayez portrayed as Venus around the same time.

Heinrich Heine: Ad Finem

The years they come and go,
The races drop in the grave,
Yet never the love doth so
Which here in my heart I have.

Could I see thee but once, one day,
And sink down so on my knee,
And die in thy sight while I say,
“Lady, I love but thee!”


Written 1823–24. Translation by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

When Pierre van Hanselaere returned to Ghent in 1829, he was a celebrated painter and immediately appointed professor at the Royal Academy. For the rest of his life, he painted mainly portraits, and some religious and historic pieces.

During his stay in Italy—in Rome and for several years in Naples, as court painter for the Neapolitan king—he painted the local life: poachers, brigands, or this Young Woman with Hat and Grapes. It was put up for auction in December 2006 with an estimate of €12,000–15,000, but not sold.

Giacomo Leopardi: The Infinite

THIS lonely hill to me was ever dear,
This hedge, which shuts from view so large a part
Of the remote horizon. As I sit
And gaze, absorbed, I in my thought conceive
The boundless spaces that beyond it range,
The silence supernatural, and rest
Profound; and for a moment I am calm.
And as I listen to the wind, that through
These trees is murmuring, its plaintive voice
I with that infinite compare;
And things eternal I recall, and all
The seasons dead, and this, that round me lives,
And utters its complaint. Thus wandering
My thought in this immensity is drowned;
And sweet to me is shipwreck on this sea.


Written between 1819 an 1821. Translation by Frederick Townsend, published 1887.

Nikolaus Lenau, actually Nikolaus Franz Niembsch Edler von Strehlenau, was born in 1802 near in a small community near Temesvár that now bears his name. He started publishing poems in 1827 and fell into a gloom when his mother died two years later. In 1832 he emigrated to America and lived for a while with the Harmony Society, but returned the following year. He lived partly in Stuttgart and partly in Vienna, wrote some plays and more poems, some of them inspired by his hopeless passion for Sophie von Löwenthal, the wife of a friend. in 1844 he became increasingly unstable. He died in 1850 in an asylum in Oberdöbling, a suburb of Vienna. He is considered the greatest Austrian poet of his century, and many of his poems were put into music.

The portrait was either made before 1824, when Friedrich Amerling (he was nobilitated only in 1878) went to Prague for a few years, or after 1828, when he returned to Vienna.

In 1820, it had been a while since someone had painted a Susanna in the bath. The subject had gone out of fashion after the first quarter of the 18th century. Here it got fulminant a return. Most artists either show the elders as voyeurs in the background of whom Susanna is not yet aware, or they show them physically harassing her. Pierre van Hanselaere does neither, but the scared look on the face of his Susanna is more convincing, and impressive, than any of his predecessors managed. He clearly outshines his teacher David here, whose histories were always somewhat posed and unnatural.

Previously an electorate, Bavaria had only become a kingdom with the Peace of Pressburg in 1806, so all the regalia were still quite new when Ludwig became King in 1825. They were also very Napoleonic, note the wreath-shaped back of the throne and the L in analog to Napoleon’s N. The crown had been made by Martin-Guillaume Biennais, it was never worn, just displayed during the enthronement ceremony. It had a huge blue diamond that was sold in 2008 for £16.4 million Sterling to Laurence Graff, who recut it.

Ludwig, who does not look very regal on this portrait, was a great lover of the arts, women, and Greece. His second son Otto was elected monarch of the newly sovereign Greek state in 1832. He changed the spelling of his realm from Baiern to Bayern because it looked more Greek. He had no less than three museums built in Munich for his huge art collection. In the revolution year 1848, he abdicated in favor of his son Maximilian, since he did not want to rule under a constitution.

Joseph Karl Stieler had been appointed court painter in 1820 by Ludwig’s father, Maximilian I Joseph. For Ludwig, he painted portraits of the royal family, beautiful women, and poets.

This is the only painting by Alexandre Charles Guillemot of which I could find a high-quality reproduction: Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan, 1827. Not a very convincing rendering of the story found in the fourth book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, here in the translation of Garth and Dryden:

The Sun, the source of light, by beauty’s pow’r
Once am’rous grew; then hear the Sun’s amour.
Venus, and Mars, with his far-piercing eyes
This God first spy’d; this God first all things spies.
Stung at the sight, and swift on mischief bent,
To haughty Juno’s shapeless son he went:
The Goddess, and her God gallant betray’d,
And told the cuckold, where their pranks were play’d.
Poor Vulcan soon desir’d to hear no more,
He drop’d his hammer, and he shook all o’er:
Then courage takes, and full of vengeful ire
He heaves the bellows, and blows fierce the fire:
From liquid brass, tho’ sure, yet subtile snares
He forms, and next a wond’rous net prepares,
Drawn with such curious art, so nicely sly,
Unseen the mashes cheat the searching eye.
Not half so thin their webs the spiders weave,
Which the most wary, buzzing prey deceive.
These chains, obedient to the touch, he spread
In secret foldings o’er the conscious bed:
The conscious bed again was quickly prest
By the fond pair, in lawless raptures blest.
Mars wonder’d at his Cytherea’s charms,
More fast than ever lock’d within her arms.
While Vulcan th’ iv’ry doors unbarr’d with care,
Then call’d the Gods to view the sportive pair:
The Gods throng’d in, and saw in open day,
Where Mars, and beauty’s queen, all naked, lay.
O! shameful sight, if shameful that we name,
Which Gods with envy view’d, and could not blame;
But, for the pleasure, wish’d to bear the shame.
Each Deity, with laughter tir’d, departs,
Yet all still laugh’d at Vulcan in their hearts.

David Gee (1793–1872) was a Coventry artist who seems to have painted mainly local sights and events. This picture shows the Lady Godiva Procession of 1829.