Artists in Finck's Coffee-house in Munich, 1832
Oil on canvas. 94,8 x 136,6 cm
Inventory number: B197
In 1830, Eckersberg’s pupil, Wilhelm Bendz, had received a travel grant and left Denmark the following year. As usual, Rome was the goal, but Bendz took his time on the journey. One of the first places he visited in Munich was Finck’s Hostelry, which was the meeting place of the Munich artists. There, Bendz hoped to meet his friend, the Hamburg landscape painter Christian Morgenstern, whom he knew from the time when Morgenstern was studying at the Academy in Copenhagen. Morgenstern introduced him to the group of artists seen here gathered around their regular table.
Bendz himself described the picture in a letter to his teacher Eckersberg:
“In the foreground I had a number of painters with whom I consorted daily, and I attempted to reproduce the life ruling there, and to portray each as typically as possible. In general, we sang four-part songs, and drinking beer played an important part, as you well know is the case everywhere in Bavaria; in the background we can see into two other rooms, and I tried to paint that in the light of candles, which faced me with many difficulties when it came to creating portraits.”
If any of the artists portrayed is to be given a special mention, it must be Bendz himself, who is seen standing third from the right with a pipe in his mouth. Perhaps he has just arrived – the man beside him, the genre artist Joseph Petzl, is at any rate just removing his outdoor clothes. Morgenstern is seated on the far right at the artists’ table. In the foreground, an artist is leaning forward towards a woman selling walnuts. This is the Norwegian landscape painter Thomas Fearnley, who subsequently bought the painting from Bendz and shortly afterwards sold it on to Thorvaldsen.
Benz left Munich in September 1832 together with Fearnley and Petzl in order to go to Italy. They were to travel via Salzburg and Trieste to Venice. However, Bendz caught typhoid fever and died at the early age of 28 at Vicenza without ever reaching the Eternal City.