Arts in Denmark Part 2


Hans Brüggemann

Hans Brüggemann’s large, richly ornate bedside altarboard from Bordesholm with 398 finely carved figures is now found in the Schleswig Cathedral.

After the Christianization of Denmark, a number of Romanesque stone churches were built, which were adorned with sculptures. The Romanesque stone sculpture belongs essentially to the 12th century and flourishes especially in Skåne and East Jutland. Examples include baptismal fonts, of which there are more than 1500, and which show a large number of local schools, and partly the church’s ornamental portal, such as Ribe cathedral’s ” cathedral door” from about 1130. The metal sculpture is represented primarily by the unique East Jutland group “golden altars” : antemensals, recoveries and crucifixes in driven and gilded copper (Lisbjerg around 1150). But also crucifixes in wood are common, stylistically under the strong influence of Byzantium. The same applies to frescoes, which reach their highest flowering around 1200 in the Zealand churches, a style string and distinguished art that characterize Denmark’s decorative painting throughout the century.

The Gothic came to Denmark relatively late. Strongly French is a major work such as the Herlufsholm Crucifix (around 1250), but after about 1350 the influence of Hanseatic art becomes dominant. During the 15th century, a large import of figurative-rich painted and carved altarpieces from North German workshops takes place, and shortly after 1500 significant German artists settle in Denmark, among others Hans Brüggemann, most famous for his 12-meter altar in Schleswig Cathedral, completed in 1521, with a myriad of figures under vault, towers and frameworks symmetrically disposed in flamboyant Gothic architecture.

In the painting, Gothic sets in around 1250, and throughout the following century the church’s cross vault is filled with graceful narrative scenes and lush ornamentation in a bright and light color scheme (Broby, Højby). In the late Middle Ages, the style becomes more realistic, with boldly portrayals of the history of suffering, doom, martyr scenes, the dance of death, allegorical and moralizing stories and so on.

  • Gothic

Renaissance and Baroque

Renaissance and Baroque are influenced by the influence of Dutch art. Important sculpture orders go to leading artists such as the Antwerp master Cornelis Floris (the tombs of Frederick 1 in Schleswig Cathedral and Christian 3 in Roskilde, 1569-1575, and Adrian de Vries (the great fountain in Frederiksborg, 1617).

In the painting the main emphasis is now on the portrait. During Christian 4, German and Dutch painters in the country, the two most important, Karel van Mander and Abraham Wuchters, continue their business under Frederik 3. In addition to portraits there are also a number of decorative works, ceiling decorations, tapestries and so on.

Baroque and rococo are in Denmark as elsewhere in Europe the style of monarchy, with France and Italy as stylistic models. In 1671, according to a French design, the Norwegian-born Lambert van Haven was appointed master builder and thus collected all art production related to the court: architecture, sculpture and painting, under a joint centralized management. He was in charge of the decoration of the council hall in Frederiksborg in 1681 in pompous French Baroque style, including allegorical ceiling paintings by his compatriot Peder Andersen.

In the sculpture, the new “heroic style” is represented by the summoned French sculptors François Dieussart (bust of Christian 4 and Frederick 3 ) and Abraham C. Lamoureux, who performed the oldest equestrian statue in the Nordic region, the one of Christian 5 at Kongens Nytorv (1688), while the Flame Lender Thomas Quellinus introduces the swelling Bernini style into his many tombs. The Baroque’s virtuosic material treatment also characterizes the Norwegian-born ivory cutter Magnus Berg’s reliefs. In the new castles in the 18th century ( Frederiksberg, Fredensborg ), talented decorative artists such as Henrik Krock and Bénoit Le Coffrebig tasks, and the aristocratic portrait style was carried on by, among others, Bénoit le Coffre, and above all the colorist Carl Gustaf Pilo.

  • Renaissance
  • Baroque
  • Rococo


Bertel Thorvaldsens

Bertel Thorvaldsens. The three gratuities and Amor, 1817-19. Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen.

At the Academy of Fine Arts (founded in 1754), the Frenchman Nicolas-Henri Jardin, who is regarded as the one who introduced classicism in Danish architecture, became a professor with his compatriot Jacques Saly, who during his stay in Denmark in 1753-1774 created excellent portrait busts and the stately equestrian statue. by Frederik 5 at Amalienborg.

In the painting Nicolai Abildgaard is the central figure of early classicism. His main work was the ten wall fields for Christiansborg’s Knights Hall. Good portrait painters were Vigilius Erichsen, Peder Als and above all Jens Juel, while landscapes besides Juel were painted by Erik Pauelsen and Christian August Lorentzen, both of whom preferably derived their motifs from the picturesque and exotic Norwegian nature of the time.

With Bertel Thorvaldsen, Danish sculpture won world fame, and his cool, clear-cut classicism came a long time to decide the development. Known among others is the Jesus sculpture in Frue church in Copenhagen and Jason with the golden skin. Thorvaldsen’s style is noticed by Herman V. Bissen. His statues The Danish Lands Soldier and Frederik 6 nevertheless have greater intimacy, and in Hermann E. Freund’s attempt to give Nordic-mythological subjects in antiquarian form, while Jens A. Jerichau shows a more powerful realism. More important than for the sculptors, the domestic academy was given to the painters, not only Danish, but also German (Asmus J. Carstens, Caspar David Friedrich, Philipp Otto Runge ) and Norwegian ( JC Dahl ).

In painting, the classicist art direction has its foremost representative in Christoffer W. Eckersberg, who, with a foundation in Jacques Louis David’s rigorous school in his portraits, marines and architectural images, unites penetrating nature study with a clear and fixed image effect. Among his most famous official portraits is the painting by his friend Thorvaldsen. Eckersberg worked for a long time as a professor at the Academy and stands as the founder of the domestic painting school in the 1830s-1840s, the so-called golden age in Danish painting. His students Christen BUYKE, Martinus Rørbye, Constantin Hansen and Jørgen Roed continued his line, while the significant portrait painterChristian Albrecht Jensen worked in a freer and softer color.

  • Classicism