Vilhelm Peter Carl Kyhn
(Copenhague 1819 – Frederiksberg 1903)
and Ernst Meyer
(Hambourg 1797 – Rome 1861) ?
Young Fisher-Boy in Capri
Oil on paper laid on canvas.
Inscribed Ernst Meyer (Baggrunden dog muligvis af Kyhn) on the stretcher.
320 x 243 mm – 12 5/8 x 9 9/16 in.
The inscription in Danish ascribes this painting to Ernst Meyer while stating that the background is probably by the Danish painter Vilhelm Peter Carl Kyhn. Both of them were important painters at the cusp between the Golden Age of Danish painting and Romanticism.
The inscription is somewhat surprising, given that the two artists did not belong to the same generation or the same circle, but Kyhn having travelled to Italy in 1850-51 could have met Meyer who permanently settled in Italy in the 1850’s, after the Italian revolutions.
The landscape is in fact very reminiscent of Kyhn’s works and be attributed to him without hesitation. Throughout his career, this artist particularly focused on nature and made few pictures with figures. However, there are a few and one of them represents A Young Boy Seated on a Wall Overlooking Capri (private collection). It reveals the same great attention to the texture of the rocks and to the bright light and the same color match as in the present picture. Whether the figure can indeed be attributed to Meyer cannot be discarded, given its roundness and sturdiness which are more evocative of his genre scenes figures, inspired by Bartolome Pinelli’s drawings, than of Kyhn’s figures.
From the 1850’ onward, Meyer suffered from hand paralysis; he then gave up painting for the lighter technique of watercolor. This could also explain his collaboration with other artists such as Kyhn.
The picturesque limestone rocky outcrops and the young fisher-boy’s clothes point towards the island of Capri. With its incomparable light, lush vegetation and spectacular views, Capri attracted most of the 19th century international high society. Swiss, German and Scandinavian painters such as Ernst Fries, Johan Christian Dahl, Martinus Rørbye and Christen Købke, were many to come and paint its picturesque scenery.