Roland Risse (German, 1835-1900)
Sleeping Beauty, n.d.
Oil on canvas 21 in. x 21 in. (53.34 cm x 53.34 cm)
Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker Collection1872.477
Born in Cologne in 1835, Roland Risse remained in western Germany throughout his career, with some travel to Dresden, Munich, and Paris. He studied at the Düsseldorf Academy under Eduard Bendemann before the latter moved to Dresden. After further study under the Academy’s director Wilhelm von Schadow, Risse finally settled in Darmstadt. Known mostly as a painter of daily life, he was also a renowned portraitist.
Though the story of Sleeping Beauty needs little introduction, it was only in the 19th century that such tales were collected systematically and became subjects for paintings. The brothers Grimm, linguists as well as historians, traveled Germany to record the traditions and language of the common people in addition to their folk tales. Their goal, along with that of many in the Romantic period, was to help preserve the native culture that they felt was being lost as Europe became industrialized. Their accomplishments in the fields of linguistics and history have since been overshadowed by the great popularity that the tales they collected enjoy to this day. Risse himself painted this subject more than once. In accordance with the German name of the tale, Dornröschen, a rose bramble envelops the scene.