Description: signed and dated Const. H. 1842 lower left; titled NEPTVNS TEMPEL ved PESTVM lower right oil on canvas
Dimensions: 30 by 34.3cm., 11¾ by 13½in.
Provenance: Sale: Sotheby's London, 19 November 1997, lot 75
Purchased by the present owner at the above sale
Notes: PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF DIMITRI MAVROMMATIS
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Trained first as an architect, in 1825 Hansen enrolled at the Copenhagen Academy of Fine Art, where he was greatly influenced by the teaching of C.W. Eckersberg. Leaving Denmark for Italy in 1835, he visited the Temple of Poseidon at Paestum in 1838. The sketches of the temple that he did on site he then worked up into four oils of which the present work is the largest, and the only version to include two figures.
The first version, dating from 1838, shows a standing shepherd in place of the flute-playing child (private collection; see: E. Hannover, Maleren Constantin Hansen, Copenhagen, 1898, fig. 39). The second, in which the seated flautist with a dog at his feet was substituted for a shepherd, was commissioned by Bertel Thorvaldsen and painted the following year (Thorvaldsen Museum; see: exhibition catalogue, L'Age d'Or de la Peinture Danoise, Paris, 1984, no. 78, p. 177). The third version without figures was sold in Copenhagen in 1996 (see: sale, Bruun Rasmussen, Copenhagen, 4 June 1996, lot 85).
Among the praise heaped upon Hansen's pictures at a Copenhagen exhibition of 1844 the critic K.F. Wiborg assigned a special position to The Temple of Poseidon, '...distinguished with all the simplicity and power with which nature imposes herself through her colours. Of the columns of Paestum, we mention only the central one, a little behind those of the foreground! What clarity! What power! What heat in that shade!'