The Body in Art 1800-1900
Danish and Nordic Art 1800-1900
”All art is drawn towards, and finds its perfection in, the depiction of Mankind and all things human.”
The quote dates from 1865 and aptly frames the Danish art historian Julius Lange’s lifelong interest in the human figure within art history. Here it is used as the point of entry to a room that shows how artists of the 19th century depicted human beings and human endeavours. From Neo-Classicism and the Golden Age with their harmonious body, as seen in Bertel Thorvaldsen, to Symbolism with its highly sensuous and tortured body as seen in Hansen Jacobsen, Ejnar Nielsen, and Edvard Munch.
In terms of cultural history the narratives shift away from Romantic perceptions of the ideal body as an expression of a well-ordered, divinely ordained world view; in the decades around 1900 mankind is viewed as having been abandoned by God, left to itself and its own devices, and is now shown as a symbolic husk and tormented body.