Exhibition ~ Rooms with a View: Open Windows in the 19th Century

When I travel, and when I have the good sense to have my camera with me, I most often take pictures of windows and doors – I am fascinated by these architectural details. But when I return, my husband invariably laments the lack of PEOPLE in my photos, completely bored by the endless stream of  such details on rarely identifiable buildings!  I often don’t disagree! – but I cannot help it – even as I look around my house, most of the artwork depicts windows and doorways, looking in and looking out. This says something about me psychologically I would suppose, but I needn’t go there today!

So I was intrigued to discover a special exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art  titled “Rooms with a View: The Open Windows in the 19th Century“:

This exhibition focuses on the Romantic motif of the open window as first captured by German, Danish, French, and Russian artists around 1810–20. These works include hushed, sparse rooms showing contemplative figures, studios with artists at work, and window views as sole motifs. The exhibition features some thirty oils and thirty works on paper by, among others, C. D. Friedrich, C. G. Carus, G. F. Kersting, Adolph Menzel, C. W. Eckersberg, Martinus Rørbye, Jean Alaux, and Léon Cogniet. Loans to the exhibition have come from museums in Germany, Denmark, France, Austria, Sweden, Italy, and the United States.

You can view a good number of the paintings in the exhibition here: http://www.metmuseum.org/special/open_window/images.asp

You can also read a review of the exhibition here at Ellen Moody’s blog.

[Image and text from the MET website]

Copyright @2011, by Deb Barnum of Jane Austen in Vermont

10 thoughts on “Exhibition ~ Rooms with a View: Open Windows in the 19th Century

  1. Windows have always captivated artists! For the views, the natural light, the architectural details, and more… We can’t help but dwell on windows in every angle, focus, and time of day!

    I know exactly how you feel, although my personal obsession when out walking … are roads and sidewalks.
    My family laughs at me whenever we review my shots, and half the images are my attempts to be “artsy” while focusing on the sidewalk cracks. :P


    • Hi Tarafly – very interesting! – we could put a power point presentation together and bore the entire audience! – I love your idea of looking at the roads and sidwalks – the possible changes due to weather, etc are endless – oh dear, I feel another photographic obsession coming on!

      Thanks for visiting,


  2. Windows!!!!! There are so many examples of French artists using windows symbolically.

    There is the famous painting,
    ” The Awakening Conscience,” by Holman Hunt, I think, the Preraphaelite, where the woman is looking out of the window at the life she could have had.
    Come to think of it Deb, we are all in that position aren’t we?

    Here is a link. I think the painting is in Tate Britain.
    Next time you are over we will have to go and see it.




    • Thanks Tony for this! – a lovely painting by Hunt indeed.

      I think this exhibition had a very small window [pardon the pun] of time and artists in the selection of the paintings – think of all the possibilities of works with windows! – Edward Hopper for one – nearly all his paintings are of windows of one kind or another! – and then Vermeer! – the list is endless – so yes this is a very select grouping…

      Glad you stopped by, Tony, with that lovely link…


    • Hello Tom, thanks for stopping by and sending along a link to your very own ‘Room with a View’! – it is lovely – I also see that you are the painter of a Jane Austen portrait [in 2001 or so?] – what is your connection to Austen?


  3. Thanks for posting about this exhibit… how I wish I could see it in person. Even though I can’t get over to the MET, I can explore its site. Thanks for the link. Looking at the sample paintings, and the descriptions, it’s interesting to note the phrase ‘romantic motif of the open window’ is used. Most of the figures in the sample paintings are feminine (except two), leads me to the other “Room With A View” of Helena Bonham Carter opening the window, and the Edward Hopper painting ‘Cape Cod Morning’.


    • Oh Arti, Hopper’s painting is one of my favorites!

      It does seem to be a very feminine scene, doesn’t it – the waiting, looking out from an interior life – makes me think of Anne Elliot’s speech to Capt. Harville about the woman at home and waiting, watching for her man to return, confined to the domestic life. A great thought on your part to recall the Helena Bonham Carter opening the window in the movie – I should see that again, it has been so long…

      Thanks as always for stopping by, Arti,


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