Sleeping woman in antique dress, 1813
Oil on canvas. 44,5 x 39,2 cm
Inventory number: B209
Works, relating to this work: C.W. Eckersberg, The Dream of Alcyone, sketch, 1813, Stiftung Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesmuseen, Gottorf Castle, GermanyEnlarge photo
This is perhaps the most beautiful of the Eckersberg paintings in the museum, but it is and will always remain a fragment of a larger composition. Eckersberg was in 1813 working on two scenes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, both of which had Alcyone as their main figure. One of them – now in Statens Museum for Kunst – shows her waving farewell to her husband, Ceyx, as he sails away. The other was to have shown the sleeping Alcyone receiving the message in a dream that Ceyx had died at sea. To emphasis the restless sleep of the main figure, Eckersberg placed a peacefully sleeping servant girl in the foreground. And this is who this fragment shows. For Eckersberg was never satisfied with his work and therefore decided to cut out and save the successful section with the servant girl. The fragment suggests that the artist abandoned the Alcyone painting before finishing it. The painting of the floor, the plinth on which the servant girl is sitting and her clothes has clearly not been completed. But the girl’s head, resting heavily in the top left corner is entirely and very beautifully finished.