From left: Peter Paul Rubens, Matthaeus Yrsselius (1541-1629), Abbot of Sint-Michiel’s Abbey in Antwerp, c. 1624. Ambrosius Bosschaerts the Elder, Bouquet of Flowers in a Stone Niche, 1618. Lucas Cranach the Elder, Melancholia, 1523.

Exhibition | News about the art | 11.nov.2011

NEW EXHIBITION: European Art 1300-1800

Five hundred years of art unfold themselves before your eyes in a new, extensive, and audience-oriented display at the National Gallery of Denmark. From Medieval times to the Enlightenment, this new display of “European Art 1300-1800" takes you on a tour of the most important periods and styles within Western art. On that journey you are in the company of some of the main figures within art history. The new display shows more than 450 works in a total of 18 freshly renovated exhibition rooms. A tremendous amount of art and art history is there for you to explore, offering historical focal points as well as present-day perspectives to ensure poignancy and relevance for modern audiences.

Con amore – a collection built by the kings
The older European art housed at the National Gallery of Denmark constitutes the oldest art collection in Denmark and has its roots all the way back to the private collections of the kings. From the early 16th century up until the abolishment of absolute monarchy in 1848 the kings acquired the art themselves and so left their personal imprint on the collection; and, as is only to be expected, they did so with varying degrees of passion and a more or less sure eye for quality. For this reason the collection encompasses the masterful and the mediocre alike, but by virtue of its tremendous scope – and recent, judicious acquisitions – it is uniquely representative within many areas.

Chronology and geography
Overall, "European Art 1300-1800" is arranged in order of chronology and country of origin, thereby allowing for a relatively easy overview of and insight into the tremendous wealth of material. You are initially offered a choice of three different routes through the five centuries of art, which place especial emphasis on Italian, Dutch, Flemish, French, Spanish, and German art. The three routes each outline different movements within the arts and also point to crucial chapters within the collection’s history.

The famous and the forgotten
Naturally, "European Art 1300-1800" offers a welcome opportunity to reacquaint yourself with important masterpieces by some of the leading figures within art history such as Mantegna, Titian, El Greco, Jordaens, and Bernini. Artists such as Cranach, Rubens, and Rembrandt also command special attention in this display, where their works are presented in a monographic setting alongside works by their pupils or by artists from the same scene or circle. Conversely, the display also presents undercurrents within the art scene as well as some of those artists who have been standing in the shadow of well-known masters. Similarly, the display encompasses examples of motifs that are very rarely treated within the arts, e.g. depictions from the colonies in Africa and Latin America.

Special themes, many voices, and a family area
All the new displays of the permanent collections share a common ambition: to ensure that historical material is relevant to and resonates with contemporary audiences, for example through new digital and analogue means of presentation, communication, and education. In tandem with the main outlines and routes through the display, "European Art 1300-1800" also presents particular focus areas that offer a historical or contemporary perspective on the art, subjecting it to a variety of gazes. A digital desk provides access to films and information about the works; here, the artists Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen and Kaspar Bonnén are among those who offer new perspectives on the art. The rooms featuring Italian art focus on prevailing perceptions of what it means to be a human being through the ages, a theme which is addressed under headlines such as "From Type to Individual", "Moving Man" and "Travelling Man". In one room, a range of audio tracks offer you the opportunity to listen to five young audience members as well as a theologian, a psychoanalyst, and an art historian all commenting on and interpreting two selected paintings. The young Danish writer Julia Butschkow has written a piece of fiction based on a French 18th century painting. The short story presents life at the French court as seen through the eyes of little Prince Louise XIV, and you can listen to an audio version of the story while standing in front of the work itself. Last, but by no means least, the Gallery has created a family area among large-scale history paintings of biblical and mythological scenes. Here you will find a space and texts set aside for parents to read aloud to young visitors, and families with children aged 6 to 10 years can play "Match-SMK", an all-new board game that focuses on telling good stories based on works of art.

700 years of art in three stages
"European Art 1300-1800" constitutes stage two of a major reinvention and revtalisation of the collections at the National Gallery of Denmark. The spring of 2011 saw the opening of stage one with the display of "Danish and Nordic Art 1750-1900" and "French Art 1900-30”, and on 31 March 2012 the range of new displays will be complete with the opening of ”Danish and International Art after 1900”. Read more.

The new displays of the Gallery’s collections are supported by
The A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møllers Foundation and The Obel Foundation.

PRESS PHOTOS are available for download here.

For further information:

Jakob Fibiger Andreasen
Head of Press
T +45 3374 8474
M +45 2961 6949

Eva de la Fuente Pedersen
Senior Research Curator
T +45 3374 8532

Updated: 19.jun.2018
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