German painter. He trained at the academy of art in Copenhagen from 1805 to 1808, adopting the clarity and brilliance characteristic of the Danish school. He settled in 1808 at Dresden, where he specialized in small portraits set in delicately rendered interiors. He was a friend of Friedrich
and painted several versions
of a portrait showing him in his studio.
With Friedrich, Kersting went on a walking tour through the Zittau Mountains and the Riesengebirge in July 1810. Kersting was also a close friend of the painter Gerhard von Kgelgen, at whose house he was a frequent guest. His first two portraits in individual interiors (a genre he was to make his own), Caspar David Friedrich
in his Studio (Hamburg, Kunsthalle) and Gerhard von Kgelgen in his Studio (Karlsruhe, Staatliche Kunsthalle), attracted much attention on their exhibition at the Dresden Kunstakademie in 1811.
Kersting continued to produce works of this very appealing type, linking the sitter with his surroundings: they are an epitome of early Romantic interest in the spirit of the individual and point beyond the ephemeral, genre-like aspects of the subject to a symbol of the interaction between man and the space in which he works or lives. In 1812 Kersting painted The Embroiderer, The Elegant Reader and Man at a Desk (all Weimar, Schlossmuseum). For the last of these, Kersting used the young painter Louise Seidler as a model. Seidler was instrumental in enabling Kersting to send several of his works to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in Weimar in 1813. Goethe strongly recommended that Grand Duke Charles Augustus buy The Embroiderer, and he also encouraged further sales by promoting a lottery.
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