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Oil painting - An Offer of Marriage
  • An Offer of Marriage
    Kunkler, Jean Jules Adrien, born 1829 - died 1866
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An Offer of Marriage

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Savoie (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    1855 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kunkler, Jean Jules Adrien, born 1829 - died 1866 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Jean Jules Adrien Kunkler (1829-1866) was born in Morges on Lake Geneva near Lausanne. He first studied in Geneva under the guidance of J.-L. Lugardon (1801-1884) and C. Humbert (1813-1881) and between 1850 and 1852 at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf with C.F. Sohn (1805-1867). In the following years he travelled around Savoy, the Balneic Islands and Spain. He mainly produced genre and landscape paintings.

This painting is a fine example of Kunkler’s small oeuvre, mainly constituted of landscape and genre scene such as the repent one, and mostly owned by private collectors. This work shows an offer in marriage: are present the father, the daughter and the potential husband. The interest in rustic subject combine with a free realistic approach is typical of the Realist movement emerged in France in the 1840s. This painting is also a good example of the type of subject produced by the artists of the Düsseldorf school, influenced by the Biedermeier imagery.

Physical description

A cottage interior with a woman seated on the far left with a dog at her feet, and older man, presumably her father in the centre and a deshevelled man to the right, with hat in hand.

Place of Origin

Savoie (probably, painted)


1855 (painted)


Kunkler, Jean Jules Adrien, born 1829 - died 1866 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

A. Kunkler 1855
lower right


Height: 38.1 cm estimate, Width: 45.7 cm estimate, :

Object history note

Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, listed in the 1868 post-mortem register of the contents of his villa in Lausanne (V&A R/F MA/1/T1181) as 'Oil on millboard. An offer of marriage (Savoy). By Adrian Kunkler. In frame. Signed. Swiss. Dated 1855'; bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, 1868.

The Townshend Bequest was made in 1868, according to the Will of Chauncey Hare Townshend. As can be ascertained from the registered files, the bequest entered the museum in that year. In his introduction to A Descriptive Catalogue of the Historical Collection of Water-colour Paintings in the South Kensington Museum (London: Chapman na d Hall, 1876) Samuel Redgrave also gives the date of the bequest as 1868 as does Kauffman in; Kauffmann, C.M.Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London: 1973). However in more recent publications the date has been given as 1869, which is the year in which the objects were catalogued.

Historical significance: This painting is a fine example of the output of the Düsseldorf school, an artistic movement developed in Düsseldorf, germany under the influence of the French Realist painters, the Biedermeier imagery and the proximity of the Netherlands which facilitates the influence of the work of such 17th-century Dutch masters as Gerrit Dou and Gabriel Metsu and such contemporary Dutch and Belgian genre painters as Ferdinand De Braekeleer. By the 1850s much of the work produced by the Düsseldorf school consisted of sentimental and anecdotal genre scenes, for example Knaus’s The Cardsharp (1851- Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf). This type of painting was practised well into the 1880s by some of the original members and their followers.
This scene is set in the western European region of Savoy where Kunkler stayed in 1854. The Swiss-born artist travelled extensively in Savoy and Spain and was a keen observer of local customs. Here he shows the cottage interior in great detail, with its furniture, pots and pans and fresh vegetables for cooking. The scene is also one of awkward tension, with an unsuitable man presenting himself for marriage to a sceptical young woman. The elder man, presumably the woman's father, adds an element of ambiguity to the narrative as it is difficult to tell whether or not he supports the proposal.
This painting was bequeathed by the Rev. Townshend who owned a large collection of 19th-century landscape and genre paintings. It is not unlikely that Townshend, who resided part of the year in Lausanne, acquired this painting directly from the artist.

Descriptive line

Oil on canvas, 'An Offer of Marriage', Jean Jules Adrien Kunkler, Swiss school, 1855

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

Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900 , London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 59, cat. no. 128.
Börsch-Supan, H. et al., Lexikon der Düsseldorfer Malerschule 1819-1918, vol. II, Munich: Bruckmann, 1998, p. 296, fig. 399.


Oil; Canvas



Subjects depicted

Marriage; Dog; Cottage; Interior




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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