Paintings from Denmark enchant

Scandinavian cultural exchange in the world of art

paintings from Denmark

“Danish Fishing Boat on Beach” by H. Haugan, signed
H. Haugan (dates unknown) captures the special light from a soft yellow and blue-gray sky, as it shines on the sea. It illuminates a typical Danish fishing boat that has been pulled ashore. This method is still used today, for example, at Thorup Beach. To see a video and hear the Danish language of fishermen against the sound of the waves as they beach a fishing boat, see:

Norway Art®, Minneapolis

“Farm at Randersfjord, Denmark” by Børge Ball, signed, place name given: Skraembaeck
Børge Ball (1906-1979) was known for his idyllic paintings of farm landscapes. In this oil painting, he portrays typical farm buildings, dairy cattle, and the beautiful setting. The scene represents an important industry that was carried over to America by Danish immigrants: dairy farming.

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.

“Harvesting with a team” by M. Møller, signed
Signed M. Møller (dates unknown) from the time before mechanized agriculture in Denmark. The three horses of contrasting colors are straining and pulling to do their work. Møller was known for painting farm scenes. This oil painting is typical of his work and of life on a Danish farm many years ago.

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. 

paintings from denmark

“Aarhus Canal” by Emanuel Rosengreen, signed
Emanuel Rosengreen (1893-1984) was a Danish painter of cityscapes, especially in Aarhus—Denmark’s second largest city—and the area around it. Here he portrays the Midtown (Midtbyen) section of Aarhus, the oldest part of the city where it originated over 1,000 years ago. The Canal of the Aarhus River runs through Midtown as it has since the early days when it was vital to the city’s development. Now opened to view after being covered over for many years, the canal’s shimmering water as painted by Rosengreen reminds one of the work of Frits Thaulow (1847-1906), famous Norwegian painter.

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.

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Mary Jo Thorsheim

Mary Jo Thorsheim (1937-2023) was the owner of the Norway Art® importing business for 40 years and a regular contributor to The Norwegian American.