© Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Interior with a Violin, 1918.

Johannes Rump

Rump, Matisse, and the French collection

The National Gallery of Denmark owns one of the most important Matisse collections in the world. For this fact, great credit is due to the engineer, politician, and art collector Johannes Rump. In 1928 he donated his collection of French art – which included 16 works by Matisse – to the Gallery. That generous gift constitutes the main portion of the Gallery’s collection of Matisse works.

A sensational collection

Johannes Rump (1861-1932) was one of the great collectors of his era. He donated gifts of art to the National Gallery of Denmark on several occasions. The 1928 donation of Rump’s large collection of French art meant that in March of 1929 the Gallery could invite its audiences inside to peruse a sensational collection that continues to give the Gallery a prominent position on the world map as far as artists such as Matisse and Derain are concerned.

Succession H. Matisse/BilledKunst Copydan 2012. Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Nude with a White Scarf, 1909.

© Succession H. Matisse/BilledKunst Copydan 2012. Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Nude with a White Scarf, 1909.

Initial rejection

At the beginning of 1923 Rump offered to donate his collection of modern French art as it appeared at the time to the National Gallery of Denmark. However, the Gallery’s director, Karl Madsen, was not convinced about the quality of Rump’s collection at that stage and refused his offer.

Rump’s ambition was needled by this rejection. He wanted his collection of international modernism to be irresistible to the Gallery. This prompted him to ally himself with Leo Swane, a curator at the Gallery and a connoisseur of contemporary international art. Swane helped Rump select artists and works, and their alliance further heightened the quality of the acquisitions made – for example, Rump purchased most of his Matisse works after this point.

Another great Danish collector

Rump bought several works from the Danish collector Christian Tetzen-Lund (1852-1936), who owned one of the largest Matisse collections in the world, but elected to resell some of his purchases.

Rump also exchanged some of his own paintings for four paintings that the Ny Carlsberg Foundation had bought from Tetzen-Lund. This took place after Rump convinced the Foundation that the Glyptotek should not cover French Modernism, but focus exclusively on Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.

A magnificent gift

In 1928 the Gallery received Rump’s donation, this time with the new director, Gustav Falck, at the helm. The donation comprises 101 paintings, 20 sculptures, 7 ceramic pieces, 107 drawings, and 15 watercolours and pastels.  In addition to the 16 works by Matisse the gift included a large collection of works by Derain, groups of works by Braque and Rouault, and individual works by Soutine and Modigliani. Concurrently with the donation Rump paid to have a new, large room erected at the Gallery to house the collection.

Succession H. Matisse/BilledKunst Copydan 2012. Henri Matisse, Zulma, 1950.

© Succession H. Matisse/BilledKunst Copydan 2012. Henri Matisse, Zulma, 1950.

More works added

After the collection had been transferred to the National Gallery of Denmark Rump continued to donate works to the Gallery up until 1930. Furthermore, Elisabeth and Johannes Rump set up a foundation intended to ensure continued development of the collection within international contemporary art. Grants from the foundation facilitated several important acquisitions, including that of Zulma by Matisse, a work acquired in 1950. The foundation still exists today and continues to facilitate selected acquisitions.

The text is based on: Kaspar Monrad, Henri Matisse, fire store samlere, Statens Museum for Kunst 1999, and Rikke Warming, Rump, danske samlinger og Derain in the exhibition catalogue Derain. Outsider i fransk kunst.

Updated: 26.apr.2018
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