Danish Golden Age opens at Nationalmuseum February 28th

By on February 8, 2019

In spring and summer, the National Museum shows the Danish Golden Age exhibition, which contains the very best of Danish painting from 1800 to 1864. The exhibition comprises just over 300 works and is produced jointly by the National Museum, Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen and Petit Palais Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris. It will be displayed at each museum in 2019 and 2020.

Although Denmark is a neighboring country and there is a common history, the art that shaped the image of Denmark is surprisingly unknown in Sweden. During the first half of the 1800s, one equally grew magical and realistic picture world in a society characterized by great upheavals. In the art a parallel universe arose where the misery of everyday life shone with its absence. From their local environment, artists created irresistible images that invite the viewer to dream away, yet be fascinated by the almost unreal detail.

The exhibition is one of the most ambitious fluoroscopy of the period’s art that has been made for many years. The interest in Danish art from the first half of the 1800s has grown ever more recently and the art scene of the present-day Denmark is regarded as one of the most important in Europe. Several of the world’s leading museums such as the Paris Louvre, The National Gallery in London and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York have acquired works from the period most commonly called the Danish Golden Age.

The Danish Golden Age epoch begins during the Napoleonic wars with, among other things, the British bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807. Artistically, it begins with Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg’s innovative views from Rome around 1815. Typical of the painting during the period are everyday motifs depicted with an intrusive and realistic sharpness. The pictures give today’s viewer a feeling of coming close to the people, society and nature of that time. The exhibition focuses on a number of central themes and on the social, political, economic and cultural conditions that were prerequisites for art. The theme contains both familiar topics such as Copenhagen, the Danish art academy, the family, the artist in work, travel pictures and landscape painting. Here are also previously known lesser-known subjects such as humor, intimacy and sensualism as well as the late gold age painting. More than 300 works are shown in the exhibition and among the artists are names such as Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, Christen Købke, Martinus Rørbye, Constantin Hansen, Peter Christian Skovgaard, Frederik Sødring, Johan Thomas Lundbye and Wilhelm Marstrand.

In teh art history writing has 1848 traditionally been regarded as the end of the golden age. Then three of the leading artists die. The same year, a constitutional government was introduced in Denmark, and war broke out between Denmark and the German-speaking population in the Dukes of Schleswig and Holstein. The exhibition, however, makes a different and broader interpretation. The end of the era is instead set in 1864, when the defeat in the war against Prussia marks both the artistic and the mental markings of the crime with a unity culture characterized by harmony during the Danish golden age. This shows a greater artistic scope and gives room for more artists than only Eckersberg and his most prominent students. In addition, it becomes possible to study the artists who continued to create long after 1850.

A large catalog is published for the exhibition, in which all the exhibitions are reproduced and which contains a number of texts by leading researchers in the subject.

The exhibition’s commissioners are Peter Nørgaard Larsen and Annette Rosenvold Hvidt from Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen and Magnus Olausson and Carl-Johan Olsson from the National Museum in Stockholm. It is based on a concept developed by the late senior inspector Kasper Monrad and is the result of the cooperation between two Nordic national galleries. This has opened for a new reading of the era, which places Danish golden age in the international 1800s art. The works come from Statens Museum for Kunst, the National Museum, several Danish and international museums as well as private collections.

The exhibition Danish Golden Age will be shown at the National Museum in Stockholm from February 28 to July 21, 2019. After that, it will be shown at Statens Museum for Kunst in autumn 2019 and at the Petit Palais Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris in spring 2020.

Helena Olofsson, Culture & Music | Stockholm