The Royal Collections

The Royal Collection of Paintings and Sculptures

Nicolai Abildgaard, The Wounded Philoctetes, 1775

Nicolai Abildgaard, The Wounded Philoctetes, 1775

Numbering a total of 10,500 works, the collection comprises painting and sculpture from the 14th century to the present day – from Denmark and abroad.

The collection has its earliest roots in the art collections owned by Danish monarchs. The earliest acquisitions were made as far back as the 16th century, but not until 1760 did the Danish King Frederik V create an art collection in the proper sense of the term by making major acquisitions of older European paintings, particularly Flemish and Dutch art.
With 10,500 works of art in The Collections, it spans Danish and non-Danish art from the 14th century until today.

Lucas Cranach d.Æ., Venus og Cupido, 1530

Lucas Cranach d.Æ., Venus og Cupido, 1530

The oldest part of the collection consists of Western European art from circa 1300 to 1800, with particular highlights among the examples of Dutch, Flemish, Italian, French, and German art. The Gallery owns Denmark’s pre-eminent collection of non-Danish older paintings and sculpture; numbering a total of more than 2,600 works of art, it is also the only large collection of its kind in the country.

The Danish Golden Age
In its capacity as National Gallery, the Gallery has an obligation to cover all important art schools, periods, and artists within older Danish art. Indeed, the collections are home to much of the art regarded as Denmark’s chief national artistic heritage, taking the so-called Golden Age (1800-1850) as its pivotal point.

Modern and contemporary art
The modern collection, spanning works from around 1900 to the present day, centres on classic Danish and French art from the first half of the 20th century. Ever since 1927, when Johannes Rump donated his collection of French art to the Gallery – including 25 works by Matisse – this part of the collection has held a unique position in Denmark and the world as such.
In 1959 the Gallery received a major donation of paintings, watercolours, and graphic art by Emil Nolde as a bequest from the artist himself. Only the Nolde Foundation in Seebüll owns a more comprehensive and important collection of his art.

Thomas Bang: Three Bag Hang - One Bag Lie  1968

© Thomas Bang: Three Bag Hang - One Bag Lie 1968

Per Kirkeby: Untitled (Winter Picture)  1995

© Per Kirkeby: Untitled (Winter Picture) 1995

Acquisitions of non-Danish art
Since 1985 the Gallery’s collection building activities within Danish contemporary art have been supplemented by acquisitions of art from outside Denmark. In order for the Gallery to acquire international art, the works in question must have had an impact on the Danish art scene. Great emphasis is placed on the interplay between Danish and foreign art in the Gallery’s presentations of the most recent contemporary art.

Updated: 26.apr.2018
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