National Gallery of Denmark features finest of Danish painting from 1807-1864

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National Gallery of Denmark features finest of Danish painting from 1807-1864
Elisabeth Jerichau-Baumann, A Wounded Danish Soldier, 1865, SMK.

COPENHAGEN.- The Danish Golden Age of art is currently attracting plenty of attention from museums and art collectors all over the world, and paintings from the period are fetching large amounts at auctions in Denmark and abroad. From August 2019, SMK will welcome visitors to the largest exhibition – supported by two foundations – ever staged about the Golden Age of Danish art. The exhibition will offer opportunities for revisiting familiar classics and discovering rarely shown works.

N.F.S. Grundtvig, Hans Christian Andersen, Johanne Louise Heiberg and Søren Kierkegaard. Even though Denmark’s very existence was threatened on several occasions during the nineteenth century, the period also brought forth some of Denmark’s greatest cultural figures ever, becoming one of the most creative eras in Danish art and culture. We got a Danish Golden Age. And in many ways, the artists of the Golden Age created the image of Denmark and Danish landscapes that we have known and cultivated ever since: the majestic beech forests, the golden coasts and the well-groomed interiors of bourgeois homes.

This August, the National Gallery of Denmark (SMK) will show a comprehensive exhibition about the Danish Golden Age: numbering more than 200 paintings and drawings from the period 1807 to 1864, this will be the largest presentation of Golden Age art ever accomplished in Denmark. The exhibition is produced in collaboration with Petit Palais in Paris and the National Museum in Stockholm, which owns the largest collection of Danish Golden Age art outside of Denmark.

International interest in Danish Golden Age art has been on the rise in recent years; auction houses see growing international demand, and several of the world’s leading museums have acquired works from the period. Their number includes the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Extending the Golden Age by 14 years
Expanding the conventional view of the period, the exhibition Danish Golden Age – World-class Art Between Disasters extends the time span of the Golden Age. Bookended by two historic disasters – the bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807 and the war in 1864 – the exhibition presents Golden Age ideas and narratives about Copenhagen, nature, bourgeois family life, international inspirations, morals and eroticism.

Traditionally, the Danish Golden Age has been held to end around 1850 with the introduction of constitutional rule in Denmark in 1848 and The First Schleswig War of 1848–51. However, the National Gallery of Denmark now lets it continue until 1864.

“Our decision to extend the Golden Age by fourteen years rests on the fact that Denmark’s defeat in 1864 marked a decisive break with the culture and outlook on life represented by the Golden Age. The extended time span also paves the way for greater artistic range, allowing room for more artists besides Eckersberg and his most famous pupils. The new inclusions boast figures such as Johan Ludvig Lund, Elisabeth Jerichau-Baumann, Ditlev Blunck and Louis Gurlitt as well as several flower painters, both male and female”, explains Peter Nørgaard Larsen, senior researcher and chief curator at SMK.

Who are we?
The painters of the Danish Golden Age worked at an age when the idea of a common nation and a common language became the focal point for Denmark, by then the tattered remains of a formerly great realm. It was also a time of flourishing artistic interplay and relationships between artists, writers, poets, composers, the stage and scientists.

“The period sees the emergence of a completely new and fruitful dialogue between painters, musicians and scientists. And new academic fields of study such as meteorology, botany and archaeology become visible in art. The people of the time ask many questions: What is Denmark and Danish art? What is a family and what is friendship really? And how can we best educate and better ourselves and each other?” states Peter Nørgaard Larsen.

The exhibition presents more than forty of the period’s greatest artists such as Christen Købke, Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, Elisabeth Jerichau-Baumann, Constantin Hansen, Martinus Rørbye and Peter Christian Skovgaard alongside less familiar names such as Sally Henriques, Christine Løvmand, Hermania Neergaard, Frederik Sødring and Thorald Læssøe.

The exhibition is produced in collaboration with Nationalmuseum Stockholm (28 February – 21 July 2019) and the Petit Palais in Paris (28 April – 16 August 2020)

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