Ludvig Holberg meets Jean de France and Jacob von Thyboe. Unsigned. Oil on canvas. 51 x 34 cm.
Exhibited: Vestsjællandsk Kunstmuseum, Sorø and Hofteatret (the Court Theatre, Copenhagen), "Holberg hos Marstrand", 2004, reproduced p. 23 in the exhibition catalogue.
Literature: Karl Madsen, "Wilhelm Marstrand", 1905, mentioned and reproduced p. 375. Here Karl Madsen writes (in Danish): "When Orla Lehmann got the brilliant idea of having different artists paint a series of pictures of Danish poets in distinctive situations, it was obvious to have Marstrand paint Holberg. In addition, Marstrand painted Johan Herman Wessel, Johannes Ewald, the Heiberg family and others. The champion of the National Liberal cause in Denmark, the great orator and advocate of Danish culture and enlightenment, Orla Lehmann, wanted the series to include Danish writers who had made themselves spokesmen for "the Nordic" or "the National"."
Henry Hellssen: "Danske Malere fortæller Fædrelandshistorie" , 1953, p. 44, mentions the subject and reproduces a variant of the present painting.
One story goes that Holberg was stopped on the street by an officer who shouted at him: "I don't move out of the way for a fool", to which Holberg replied: "But I do". Orla Lehmann's title for the present painting was: "Jacob von Thybo and Jean de France won’t move out of the way for a fool, but Holberg will move out of his way for two".
Gitte Valentiner: "Wilhelm Marstrand, Scenebilleder", 1992, p. 120-122 mentions (in Danish) "that Marstrand painted an incident for Orla Lehmann from Wille Høyberg’s "Kjøbenhavnske Samlinger af rare trykte og utrykte piecer" (a collection of rare printed and unprinted stories from Copenhagen). Here the incident with the officer running into Holberg is mentioned.
It is not possible to locate the place where the meeting took place, but Marstrand indicates that we are in the medieval part of Copenhagen, where you see a sedan chair in the background to define that the event took place in the 18th century. The masterfully depicted fools are the main characters of the painting.
At Bruun Rasmussen auction 673, 2000 no. 338, a variant of the same motif was sold for 260,000 DKK.