Details
BERTHA WEGMANN (DANISH, 1847–1926)
Dandelions
signed 'B Wegmann' (lower right)
oil on canvas
3114 x 23 in. (79 x 58.5 cm.)
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Christie's, South Kensington, 30 May 1986, lot 129, where purchased by the father of the present owner.
Special notice
Please note this lot is the property of a consumer. See H1 of the Conditions of Sale.
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Lot Essay

Lene Bøgh Rønberg has recently discussed Bertha Wegmann’s favour for dandelions as a subject at length: 'The dandelions appearing in the middle of the list of Wegmann's contributions to The Women's Exhibition [1895] are unlikely to have been a purely arbitrary choice: the flower was used as the symbol of the exhibition. In fact, this stubborn weed that resists all attempts at repression, always springing back in spite of every effort to suppress it … played a role in the conflict between the conservative and modern camps among the women sitting on the exhibition's committee and subcommittees. The conservative women - hailing mostly from the rank of the nobility and the rural population and favouring a historical presentation of women's lives and work - were overthrown by the contingent of modern, urban working women. This latter group, which had often gone a step further in its support of the emancipation of women, believed that the exhibition should focus more on the situation of women here and now. The top management, represented by noblewoman Sophie Oxholm, was replaced by the well-known and energetic Emma Gad, and the dandelion took over as symbol in place of the far more beautiful and noble rose, which had referred to the historical role model Queen Margrete I (1353-1412). This move not only effected a serious slide down the hierarchy of flowers but introduced a completely different image of women in the exhibition's symbolism, presenting them as tenacious, strong-willed and stubborn rather than beautiful, fragile and exalted.' (L. B. Rønberg ‘Was there anything missing?’ in G. Oelsner & L.B. Rønberg (eds), Bertha Wegmann, exh. cat., Copenhagen, 2022 p. 155).
Thus, Rønberg observes, ‘Wegmann’s flower painting can be … regarded as a platform for negotiation where wild flowers represent the artist’s great love of untamed nature, but also – seen in the light of the women’s liberation movement – draw on the uncultivated plant’s capacity for uncontrolled, strong-willed growth' (op. cit., p. 159).

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