Enlightenment and Sensibility

Tischbein portrays Friederike and Wilhelmine, the daughters of the Leipzig painter Adam Friedrich Oeser, in the style of a friendship picture, a pictorial type that developed fully during the Romantic era. The representation of fine clothing, artful coifs, fabrics, and lace is in keeping with the elegant style of the late 18th century. Oeser’s students also included Goethe, who was on friendly terms with the sisters. Their artistic talent is alluded to by the book, the lute, and the easel.