Paintings from Denmark enchant
Scandinavian cultural exchange in the world of art
MARY JO THORSHEIM
Norway Art®, Minneapolis
I have many Danish friends and value the glimpse of the Danish connection with Norwegian culture and its history that I get through them. In my opinion, we Norwegian Americans can learn a lot from the Danish, and we owe them credit for many of the customs observed in Norway and Norwegian America.
Norway was under Danish rule until 1814, when the Constitutional Assembly at Eidsvoll drafted the documents that abolished the relationship.
During the time when Denmark ruled Norway, it had a huge influence on the development of Norwegian arts and traditions. Think of the kransekake—yum—originally a Danish invention. What would we do without this traditional, delicious, and beautifully decorated tower of sweet almond rings that celebrate weddings, confirmations, and other notable occasions?
The Bristol Hotel on Kristian IV’s gate in Oslo was named after King Christian IV (1577-1648), as well as the city of Christiansand, today Kristiansand, with its typical Danish styles of buildings.
In fine art during the 1800s, it was common for Norwegian painters to study in Copenhagen. The art academies in Norway had not developed like those in Denmark. The famous Golden Age Norwegian artists J. C. Dahl (1788-1857) and Adolph Tidemand (1814-1876) were among those who sought art training in Denmark. Intellectual interchange flowed briskly between the two countries, as musicians and educators and writers also turned to Denmark for formal education.
Peder Severin Krøyer (1851-1909), famous Danish painter of the special light of Skagen, Denmark, was born in Stavanger in Norway and raised in Denmark. The Swedish painter William Gislander (1890-1937) painted at Skagen; we include one example of his depiction of the beach, the sea, and the light.
In more recent times, the direction of cultural interchange has included Danish painters traveling to Norway to paint the mountainous landscape that stands in stark contrast to the terrain of Denmark. Nevertheless, Danes painting at home in Denmark have produced remarkable landscapes, seascapes, portraits, and interiors that are different from these subjects found in Norway.
In this story, we include examples of Danish paintings that are skillful renditions created in Denmark. They tell a wonderful story!
All images courtesy of Norway Art
This article originally appeared in the July 31, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.