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Oil painting - The Vesper Bell: The Young Reapers
  • The Vesper Bell: The Young Reapers
    Dürck, Friedrich, born 1809 - died 1884
  • Enlarge image

The Vesper Bell: The Young Reapers

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Munich (painted)

  • Date:

    1848 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dürck, Friedrich, born 1809 - died 1884 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Friedrich Dürck (1809-1884) was born in Leipzig where he was a pupil of Hans Veit Friedrich Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1764-1841). He went to Munich Academy in 1834 and worked later as a court painter for the courts of Sweden (1849) and Austria (1854). He later specialised in genre scenes of childhood.

This painting is a fine example of Dürck's childhood scenes. It depicts two young children in Helvetic dress with the mountains Alps in the distance. This calm and peaceful scene combines a revived interest of nature, characteristic of the 19th-centry art and the taste for anecdotic genre paintings. This kind of pictures is typical of the Biedermeier movement that develop in the 19th century in Germanic Europe.

Physical description

A young girl, her hair plaited around her head, kneels next to an even younger boy who sits cross-legged on the ground. The girl holds a scythe in her over-lapping hands, the boy a wooden flute in his right hand and a hunk of bread in his left. They are surrounded by grass and wild flowers. Mountains in the distance.

Place of Origin

Munich (painted)


1848 (painted)


Dürck, Friedrich, born 1809 - died 1884 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

'F. Dürck 1848'
signed and dated


Height: 114.9 cm Support estimate, Width: 137.2 cm Support estimate, Height: 1457 mm Frame measured, Width: 1682 mm Frame measured

Object history note

Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, 1868

Historical significance: This painting is a fine example of Dürck's genre scenes. It depicts two young children in a majestic landscape dominated by the Alps in the background. This kind of imagery draws upon the Romantic vision of a spiritualised nature developed in Germany in the 1820s and 1830s. However unlike Romanticism which placed nature as a mirror of the mind, little attempt was made at deeper psychological exploration. The subject matter in indeed dominated here by the peaceful and charming character of the scene.
These pictures attracted patrons and collectors of the 19th-century along with Realist works. This painting was bequeathed by the Rev. Townshend whose collection is a fine example of collectors' taste of the preceding century. The museum owns the most important group of Biedermeier pictures in the U.K.

Historical context note

The term 'Biedermeier' refers to bourgeois life and art in Germanic Europe, an extensive area embracing such cities as Copenhagen, Berlin, Vienna and Prague, from 1815 (the Congress of Vienna) to the revolutions of 1848. Biedermeier painters were ideologically opposed to academic and religious painting and favoured such subject matter as portraits, landscapes and genre scenes, with still-lifes, especially of flowers. They share a similar technique in the use of separate, clear tones and a high degree of finish, reminiscent of Neo-Classicism while they tend to convey a greater sentimentality. By the 1880s, the influence of this artistic movement was on the wane and was even used pejoratively to characterize the reactionary bourgeois elements in society, which remained quite indifferent to social problems and cultivated a sense of order and sobriety, especially in the private sphere and the domestic realm.

Descriptive line

Oil on canvas, 'The Vesper Bell: The Young Reapers', Friedrich Dürck, German school, 1848

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 33, cat. no. 71.

Labels and date

Painting: The Vesper Bell, The Young Reapers

Frederick Dürck was a celebrated portrait painter based in Muchich, who also worked at the courts of Sweden and Austria. In his later career he produced many idealised scenes of everyday life, usually depicting children. In this Alpine scene the bell for Vespers, the evening service, has just rung, marking the end of the working day.

Germany, Munich; painted by Frederick Dürck
Oil on canvas

Museum no: 1538-1869
Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townsend. []
'American and European Art and Design 1800-1900'

Dürck, a pupil of Schnorr von Carolsfeld, was based in Munich, although working as a portrait painter for the courts of Sweden (1849) and Austria (1854). He later specialised in genre scenes of childhood. [1987-2006]


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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