A Joyous Reunion (1846)

Baumann, Elizabeth Jerichau (1819 - 1881)

A Joyous Reunion

Oil on Canvas: 44" x 65"
Catalog# BAUE-001

A storm churns outside this small cottage. Beyond the doorway the seas surge, seagulls hover, and grasses sway in the tumultuous elements. There has been a shipwreck and all of the fishermen have switched their duties to that of the coastguard. A rescuer enters a fisherman’s home with purpose as he reunites an anxious mother with her infant rescued from the wreckage. Rescued herself, she has been settled earlier onto this make-shift bed and has nervously awaited news of her lost child. As water runs from his brimmed rubber hat and soaks his thick woolen clothing, he seems eager to return to the rescue as the elements continue to impede their attempts.

The room is warmed by a hot fire glowing red and orange from the dancing, fiery embers. A woman in a long, dark dress (most likely the owner of the cottage) tends to the fire that soothes the cold and beaten victims of the storm. Her back is to the scene but her attention is turned to the miraculous rescue. An older man in his underclothing and fallen stockings, warming his hands and legs, sits crouched between the stove and the half-hazard bed. A young boy in the lower left of the composition sits on a log close to the fire with right arm raised as he realizes the reunion of the mother and child. Their nook glows amber from the warmth that is drying some clothing hanging above on a line.

The mother is angelic as she joyously reaches for her child. She wears a thin blue buttoned shirt, amber necklace, and is covered by a heavy blanket. Her hair is long, fine and frazzled, her lips full and red, and her nose and cheeks kissed by the wet chill. She is reclined on a feather bed atop bundles of hay. Two firm pillows soften the support of a wooden barrel, and a large rock-filled wicker basket supports her feet. The bed’s foundation consists of wooden planks and large rocks. She is confined to her bed, but desperately welcomes her naked, reaching child in the arms of its rescuer. The rescue attempts appear dire and urgent as the rescuer had perhaps no time to wrap the exposed child.

The cottage is simple at best, as it sustains a fisherman in his trade. Fishing lines, ropes, and barrels line the wooden-planked walls. The possessions meagerly consist of a mirror, two glasses, a jug and wine jar, glassware atop a corner cupboard, a hook in the wall, and a tattered and torn window covering.

Artist: Baumann, Elizabeth Jerichau (1819-1881)

  • Born November 27th 1819 in Warsaw, Poland, daughter of Philip Adolph Baumann and Johanne Frederikke Reyer.
  • Married Jens Adolf Jerichau February 19th 1846.
  • Died July 11th 1881 in Copenhagen.


  • 1838-45 - Studied Art in Berlin & Düsseldorf
  • 1857-63 - Women were not yet allowed into the Royal Art Academy; But her husband was the Director of the Royal Art Academy, so she received unofficial support, training and critique from the Academy.

Travels & Stays:

  • 1845 - Moved to Rome
  • 1849 - Moved back to Copenhagen
  • 1874-75 - Greece and the Ottoman Empire

Awards & Acknowledgments:

  • 1861 - Baumann was one of the first female artists accepted into the Royal Art Academy.
  • 1846-65 - became known and acknowledged for her portraits of numerous Danish Royalty Statesmen and Figure Heads, including King Christian 9, Queen Louise, Orla Lehmann, Johanne Luise Heiberg, Magdalene Thoresen and Hans Christian Andersen, who was a close friend of the Baumann family. Her notoriety and friendship with the Danish Royal Family later brought her numerous commissions from Russian, Greek and British Royals.
  • 1875-79 - Wrote numerous articles for various publications


  • 1844 - Debut exhibit in Düsseldorf
  • 1846 - London
  • 1851 - Exhibited the allegorical painting of the three year war (1848-51) “Denmark” which put her on the artistic map.
  • 1852 - London
  • 1867 - World Exhibition in Paris
  • 1867 - Exhibitions in Sweden and Germany