Jens Juel (1745-1802), The Dancing Glade at Sorgenfri North of Copenhagen, c. 1800
At the end of the 18th century a new pastime became popular among the citizens of Copenhagen: outings to the Dancing Glade at Sorgenfri Palace north of Copenhagen. Here, the crowds would picnic, relax, and while away time playing games. Juel captures one of these carefree events.
The central motif: The woman in the swing
To the left a party is climbing out of their carriage while several other celebrants have already made themselves comfortable at one of the tables or in a clearing between the trees. The central motif is the woman in the swing, who introduces movement to the picture and brings the composition together. During the period immediately preceding this time, the Rococo, women in swings appeared in a great many paintings, always with a hint of eroticism as the skirts fluttered around their legs. Juel’s painting has no such erotic undertones.
A middle-class idyll
The scene is a middle-class idyll where city dwellers take a rest from the frantic pace of their everyday lives. In this respect the painting points towards the next major period in Danish painting, the so-called Golden Age, where life was very much seen through the eyes of the industrious middle classes. As in several others of Juel’s pictures from around 1800, the landscape itself occupies a prominent position here.