Perhaps one of Denmark’s most known painters, Laurits Andersen Ring (1854 – 1933) was a representative of both symbolism and social realism in Danish art. Born in a village called Ring, he never lost touch with his humble roots, often portraying wild landscapes and rural life in a realistic style in his paintings.
At Breakfast (1898) shows Ring’s wife, Sigrid Kähler, having a quiet breakfast while reading the newspaper. Sigrid was a painter herself and she had posed for a series of his paintings before falling in love and marrying each other in 1896. She was 21 and he was 42 at that time, but judging by the way he painted her, Ring’s love for his wife was unquestionable. They had three children together before she died in 1923, at 49.
Sigrid was often a subject of his works, reflecting domestic contentment and calm happiness. The myrtle branches above her head are a symbol of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Myrtle branches were also commonly used in Denmark to adorn the bride at weddings, doubling down on the symbolism: bride and goddess.