An angelic face: the girl in historical garments lowers her gaze demurely, her reddish-brown curls gently framing her countenance. With depictions of religious themes and idealised portraits, Deger satisfied the tastes of the art market early on in his career. Initially training in Berlin, in 1829 the artist – who was influenced by Wilhelm Schadow – changed to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. He is considered one of the Düsseldorf Nazarenes, who drew from Italian Renaissance painting and the Early German masters in their endeavour to renew Christian art.
The widow of the art writer Karl Schnaase, who died in Wiesbaden in 1875, bequeathed this painting by Ernst Deger to the Städel in 1890. Like the artist, the trained jurist Schnaase had been living in Düsseldorf since 1829. Both strove for the renewal of Christian art. For them, religion was “the true core of the popular spirit”. Consequently, the influential autodidact was among the founders of the ‘Christliche Kunstblatt’ in 1858.