Bjergbestigersken ( A Mountain Climber)1912 by Jens Ferdinand Willumsen

Willumsen's majestic depiction of his wife Edith in a mountainous setting is about humanity's relationship with nature. (http://www.smk.dk/en/explore-the-art/art-stories/artworks/)



Willumsen was very preoccupied with materials and techniques and experimented with his own mixes of pigments and primers

During the work with the first version of A Mountain Climber, Willumsen recalls that the paint started cracking due to a poor quality primer, so that he had to start over with a new canvas

When he set out to paint the second version of the motif in 1912, he explained how he used the old, once discarded, canvas

However, conservation technical examinations haven’t shown any signs of poor primers on the 1912 version, so perhaps his recollection is incorrect?

A conservator has looked into the matter and has traced up another version of A Mountain Climber, which could be the one Willumsen had problems with


Although Willumsen was very preoccupied with the durability of his paints, he would still use a less stable paint if it had other qualities, which he valued. In A Mountain Climber you can see that he has used the plant colour madder lake in the mix for the red colour of the cheek. In ultraviolet light, the brushstroke shines with a characteristic red fluorescence. Willumsen must have had a special fondness for madder lake, although he was aware of its limited durability, because he kept using it for years and years.
[http://www.smk.dk/en/explore-the-art/art-stories/stories/vis/willumsens-technique/]
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Media: oil on canvas