Station: [18] Carl Ludwig Jessen: „Young Woman from Amrum in Traditional Costume“ (1859)

The painting “Young Woman from Amrum in Traditional Costume” shows a seated woman turning into a profile position. The artist simply left the remaining canvas blank. As a result, the focus is entirely on the portrayed individual. The features of the Frisian woman and her traditional dress are depicted with loving attention to detail. Just look how beautifully the artist has captured the silver filigree buttons of the traditional Sunday dress. This masterful realistic style of painting is also evident in the embroidery pattern of the scarf where green leaves twine around red and blue flowers. The rosy cheeks of the young woman take up the red of this floral pattern; she also has a faint smile on her lips. Could it be that sitting for the artist made her feel embarrassed?

The painter, Carl Ludwig Jessen, was himself from North Frisia. The costume we see in his painting does, in fact, match the traditional attire women on Amrum wore at the time. But the portrait of the shy girl also caters to the stereotype of a rural island world able to resist industrialisation. This romantic, glorifying view of the rural North Frisian population was very much in line with the trend of Danish national romanticism and the taste of the bourgeois public in Copenhagen. There, interest in Jessen’s paintings was particularly strong, not least due to the eventful history linking Denmark and North Frisia.