Carrying themselves like Roman goddesses, but dressed in red and white, the peasant girls walk through a Danish summer landscape. It is evening, the cows have been milked, and the Danish countryside is looking its best. Behind the ripe golden fields the cows rest next to a barrow, and the ocean can be glimpsed in the background.
A patriotic image of Denmark
The painting encapsulates the patriotic image of Denmark prevalent in the late Golden Age of Danish art. A dream or vision of coherence, clarity, and close affinity with one’s family and nation as main elements. It also imbued everyday life with a sense of the sacred with the motherand-child theme, with the metal rings of the buckets becoming haloes.
The Danish depictions of rural life
The picture speaks of the connection between man and nature and the presence of the divine in nature. The thought behind Danish depictions of rural life originally was that artists would venture out into the countryside painting scenes from everyday life in order to qualify themselves to depict edifying events from Danish history. However, only few clients wanted Danish gods and heroes. Instead artists such as Sonne, Christen Dalsgaard, and Frederik Vermehren sought to upgrade the scenes of rural life, turning it into contemporary history painting by idealising and heroising the rural population.?