The Hülsenbeck children | Philipp Otto Runge | 1806

The Hülsenbeck children | Philipp Otto Runge | 1806

The Hülsenbeck children | Philipp Otto Runge | 1806

For the Romantics of the early nineteenth century, art was not a means to earn a living; through it, they strived to capture the soul of the people they portrayed. Runge was one of them, a mystic who, through his work, he tried to express the harmony of the universe.

The artist worked his motifs from several perspectives. Many of his paintings have a religious quality, with symmetrical compositions that remind us the canvases of Raphael. Other times, his paintings resemble the mystic paintings by William Blake. And finally, we find those that are purely romantic, as the case of The Hülsenbeck children, in which he portrays children of a business associate.

In this painting, we see the garden of a house located in a semi rural area. The two eldest children, a girl and a boy, pull a wagon in which the younger child, a baby, is seated. While the boy stares at us while lifting a branch, the older girl turns and stretches her hand to get the baby’s attention, who is also staring at us. Each child has unique characteristics that set them apart, indicating Runge’s concern for the essence of the individuals, what makes us unique and different.

Runge uses several technical resources in the painting. Lots of details to give it realism; the use of light to give intensity; and the use of perspective, evident in the fence, to give the painting a sense of depth. But probably, the most interesting resource is the point of view, which is situated at the height of children and makes us part of the scene.

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~ by Álvaro Mazzino on February 28, 2013.

4 Responses to “The Hülsenbeck children | Philipp Otto Runge | 1806”

  1. Beautifull painting indeed. The original is on display in the Hamburger Kunshalle and the semi rural area is actually Eppendorf a section of Hamburg close to the Alster the big lake in the center of town.
    I used to live there as a young man back in 1966.
    Unfortunately I only possess a nice reproduction of the painting rather than the original.
    Gerrit Jan Hülsenbeck, The Netherlands

    • Hello Gerrit,

      It would be great if you have pictures of the area. And tell me: are you related to these children? that would be so odd!

      • Hi Alvaro,
        Sofar I have not found a direct link to our family tree but it is pretty sure the Hülsenbeck family all have their roots in the town of Schwelm close to Wuppertal in Germany where you can find the “Hülsenbecke ” a small river meandering through the valley called “Hülsenbecker Tal ”
        The name Hülsenbeck is based on Hülsen = holly and beck = Bach or stream so literaly translated ” Hollystream ”
        Sorry i do not have any particular picture available of the area in Hamburg where the painting was made.
        Best regards
        Gerrit Jan Hülsenbeck

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