Niels Bjerre (1864-1942), People outside a Church. Harboøre, Jutland, 1906
The funeral is over, the grave, covered in wreaths and flowers, can be seen to the right, and in the middle distance some of the mourners are already leaving the church. Five locals are left as dark figures, almost silhouettes against the wide view of lagoons and dunes in the background. In the distance we see the white surf of the North Sea.
The west coast of Jutland as motif
Niels Bjerre was born on the west coast of Jutland, and he found the motifs for his figure compositions and landscapes among its rugged countryside and the people who lived with the sea as their closest neighbour and workplace. In the figure pictures, as in reality, man and landscapes merge to form an inextricable whole.
The painting's history
This painting was a long time in the making. The first study was dated 1885, and the long genesis is part of the explanation for the picture’s complex nature. Bjerre occupied a position on the outskirts of 1890s Symbolism, but he was obviously inspired by stylistic features of the movement.
The close-to-reality Danish Symbolism
The combination of a naturalistic landscape with simplified and silhouette-like figures and the emphasis on the large, simple lines and surfaces are typical features of the close-to-reality Danish Symbolism. People outside a Church. Harboøre is one of Bjerre’s last landscapes to include people. They gradually grew devoid of figures, focusing exclusively on the grand landscapes.