Sick girl | Christian Krohg | 1881
Sometimes I get the point of naturalism. The majestic and heroic characters of the romanticism are sometimes tiring. In not few cases, these kind of paintings cross a line and become pretentious and artificial… “pompous” would be the exact word.
And I guess something like that would have thought the Norwegian Christian Krohg, who resolved to paint common individuals inside the activities of everyday life, whether in work, or walking on the street, or in a social meeting.
But the aware reader of the blog would ask: “and why this kind of painting would be naturalistic and not realistic?” Excellent question! Although they are very similar, there is a key difference: naturalists prefer to documentarily represent lower social classes, instead of painting historic motifs as the realists. In Krohg’s work, the most important are the individuals: prostitutes, fishermen and homeless.
Sick girl is a sad painting. Too sad. I always say that art should move the spectator, but this seems too much.
The girl looks at me with weepy and tired eyes. They are red, maybe a symptom of the disease she is suffering. I think that, the look, per se, doesn’t say much. But her expression is… sublime. It seems like she is scared. Like a boy tripping over a rock: the tears are not from the pain itself, but from a sudden fright.
And, to be sadder, the rose she is holding, also convalescent, slowly losses its leaves over the girl’s dress.