© Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864–1916), Interior with the Artist’s Easel, 1910, SMK

What's on | News about the art | 23.mar.2017

Nordic masters come together in Copenhagen

There is good news for everyone who likes Scandinavian art. All through the spring and summer the National Gallery of Denmark (SMK) will bring out its best Nordic works for an exhibition that shows images of children bathing on bright summer nights, pensive women in quiet rooms and family life in nineteenth-century Copenhagen.

Take a journey back to the birth of Nordic art in the nineteenth century in the company of eminent artists such as Edvard Munch, Albert Edelfelt, Vilhelm Hammershøi, J.C. Dahl, C.W. Eckersberg, Christen Købke, P.S. Krøyer, Johan Thomas Lundbye Anna Ancher, L.A. Ring, Bertha Wegmann, Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann, Nicolai Abildgaard, Jens Juel, Anna Petersen and many more.

SMK, National Gallery of Denmark owns the most extensive and important collection of Nordic art in Denmark, and this spring and summer the museum brings together a wealth of masterpieces – numbering around 110 paintings – for the exhibition Nordic Highlights. The exhibition also offers a unique opportunity to see very special loans from the Canica Kunstsamling, a vast Norwegian private collection.

Artistic friendships in Copenhagen
Danish art experienced two particularly thriving periods in the nineteenth century: the Danish Golden Age (approximately 1800 to 1850) and the modern breakthrough (1880 to 1900). Several Danish artists from these periods – especially Eckersberg, Købke and Hammershøi – have attracted great international attention in recent years and are represented at a wide range of art museums in Europe and the USA.

Throughout the nineteenth century, artists from the Nordic countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark – engaged in close, mutually inspiring artistic exchanges. Copenhagen became a crucial stopover destination for Nordic artists travelling further afield in Europe, and here they exchanged ideas and views of art with their Danish colleagues. Many fruitful friendships arose out of such meetings, and several artists maintained lifelong artistic dialogues with each other.

During the early part of this period, the friendship between Danish artist Eckersberg and Norwegian artist Dahl in particular set the tone for an entire generation of young Nordic painters. Later, eminent artists such as Munch (Norway), Strindberg (Sweden) and Edelfelt (Finland) entered into artistic conversations and interplay with Danish painters such as Krøyer and Hammershøi.

Light in the dark
The Nordic artists share a distinctive sensibility in relation to light. The many months of winter darkness made them particularly aware of the play of sunlight and shade, whether in the main capitals of art at the time – Rome and Paris – or up in the Nordic wildernesses. The bright Nordic summer nights fascinated many of these painters, inspiring them to create some of the absolute masterpieces of the period.

Nordic Highlights
Focus on Danish and Nordic Art 1750–1900
8 April – 13 August 2017

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For more information, please contact:

Kasper Monrad
Chief curator, senior researcher
Tel. +45 2552 7222

Karen Ormstrup Søndergaard
Head of press
Tel. +45 2552 7203

Updated: 12.jul.2018
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