From Abildgaard to Hammershøi – Exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

From Abildgaard to Hammershøi :
Danish drawings from the Fondation Custodia
Exhibiton >5 April 2009

The Paris-based Fondation Custodia owns a collection of some 200 Danish drawings from the first half of the 19th century, a period of cultural resurgence in Denmark that is also referred to as Denmark’s Golden Age. The Van Gogh Museum will show a selection of some 80 works from this prestigious collection, including landscapes, portraits and studies of the human figure and nature.

The drawings were executed by successive generations of artists and offer a unique overview of the Danish 19th century, from the early neoclassical work of Abildgaard to the more modern drawings by Hammershøi. It is the first time that these drawings are on show in the Netherlands.

Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916)


The Kongevejen (King’s Road) near Gentofte, north of Copenhagen, 1892
Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916)
© Fondation Custodia, Paris

Danish landscapes

As elsewhere in Europe, young artists in Denmark undertook a grand tour in order to complete their education. This cultural journey tended to culminate in Italy, where they would study classical art. Like Abildgaard and others before him, Christoffer Eckersberg was a source of inspiration to his fellow artists with his renditions of the natural beauty of the Roman countryside and its distinctive light and atmosphere. Imbued with a new sense of national consciousness and inspired by Eckersberg’s nature studies, Danish artists began to record their immediate surroundings. In addition to the landscape around Copenhagen, they familiarized themselves with the large Jutland peninsula and various islands. It was Johan Thomas Lundbye, in particular, whose drawings set the tone for the national romantic landscape.


The drawings by the Danish artists include an extraordinarily large number of portraits. Some were intended as a preliminary study for a painting, like the portrait of Belle van Zuylen by the portrait painter Jens Juel and the group portrait of Mrs Hage and her children by Wilhelm Marstrand. But a great number of these drawings were executed as independent works. Often friends and acquaintances are portrayed. A separate group within this category are the portraits of artists, including the self-portraits.


The Danish artists mostly used their figure drawings as preliminary studies, incorporating them in paintings to form part of a larger composition. Good examples are the sketches of traditional dress the Danes recorded on their travels. The artists also made sketches as a means of self-study, as can be seen clearly in the study of an Italian pastor by Ernst Meyer and that of a sleeping young man by Christen Købke.

Johan Tomas Lundbye (1818-1848 )


Reclining cow, near Ghent
Johan Tomas Lundbye (1818-1848 )
© Fondation Custodia, Paris

Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1783-1853)


Park Monceau in Paris, 1811
Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1783-1853 )
© Fondation Custodia, Paris

Lorenz Frølich 1820-1908


Portrait of the artist Friedrich Ernst Wolperding, 1841
Lorenz Frølich 1820-1908
© Fondation Custodia, Paris

Fondation Custodia

From Abildgaard to Hammershøi has been organized in cooperation with the Fondation Custodia. This institution is in charge of the Frits Lugt Collection and the related scholarly research, the publishing programme and for the organization of exhibitions. Fondation Custodia is also a partner of the Institut Néerlandais in Paris, founded in 1956 on the initiative of Frits Lugt together with the Dutch government.

    © Van Gogh Museum
    © Images. Fondation Custodia, Paris


Disclaimer & Copyright

Stampfli & Turci Art Dealers – Espaces Arts & Objets


~ by Stampfli & Turci on January 30, 2009.

2 Responses to “From Abildgaard to Hammershøi – Exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum”

  1. I’ve only recently been getting acquainted with Scandinavian and Danish painters. I find they heavily underappreciated.

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