Press release of the Statens Museum for Kunst, December 2000
This exhibition is arranged by Statens Museum for Kunst in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. It will be shown in Amsterdam at the Rijksmuseum during the period 16 June-16 September 2001.
The exhibition throws light on the nature of the influence and impact of Dutch 17th-century masters on Danish painters in the early 19th century (the Danish ‘golden age’ of painting). The golden ages of these two countries are 200 years apart – and this exhibition shows how Danish artists were inspired by the Dutch.
Similarities and differences in the paintings of two nations
Danish artists were abundantly blessed with opportunities for studying Dutch 17th-century painting, as this particular aspect of art history was richly represented in the most important art collections in Copenhagen; i.e. the Royal Collection – which now constitutes part of the collection at Statens Museum for Kunst – and the private collection of Count Moltke. The Academy students often visited these collections, keeping their eyes peeled to get a sense for the old Dutch masters and their techniques. On occasion, they even copied their paintings. It was the sense of – and for – realism in these Dutch paintings which appealed to the Danish artists. The influences from Dutch art left a deep, lasting impression on artists such as Johan Christian Dahl and Johan Thomas Lundbye, and can also be traced in painters such as Christen Købke Wilhelm Marstrand, Martinus Rørbye, etc.
This ‘golden age’ exhibition illuminates and focuses on the history of the museum, its collections, and their interplay. This is carried out by means of a series of striking juxtapositions of Dutch and Danish paintings, ranging from magnificent interpretations of nature to more unexpected and thought-provoking correlations of images and subject matter from Dutch 17th-century and Danish 19th-century bourgeois life. Portraits, church interiors, and seascapes will also form part of the exhibition.
The exhibition will show how two bourgeois nations – the 17th-century Netherlands and 19th-century Denmark – find numerous points in common. This is particularly true as regards the nature surrounding them, which is represented – with genuine national pride – in a manner both magnificent and sublime, yet also realistic and homely. It also applies to the immediate world of bourgeois life, which is depicted with especial focus on family circles and domestic scenes. Living conditions, however, were far from identical, and thus the similarities between the paintings of the two nations cover more deeply rooted differences, which are also illuminated in this exhibition.
Collaboration with the Rijksmuseum
The basis for this exhibition is a three-year PhD research project carried out at Statens Museum for Kunst by Lene Bøgh Rønberg. This project takes the museum collections of older Dutch and Danish works as its point of departure.
The collaboration with the Rijksmuseum was brought about as a result of a presentation of this research project in Amsterdam. Here, the Rijksmuseum saw opportunities for obtaining new perspectives and greater nuances in the Dutch view on their own and the Danish golden ages. This means that the Rijksmuseum has very kindly provided some of the major works from its rich collections for this exhibition, including works by Jacob van Ruisdael, Jan van Goyen, Philips Koninck, Frans Hals, Pieter de Hooch, Gerard ter Borch, Gabriel Metsu, and Pieter Saenredam.
This exhibition forms part of Statens Museum for Kunst’s endeavours to showcase important periods of Danish art history in an international context, the most recent example being the exhibition Symbolism in Danish and European Painting 1870-1910, in the autumn of 2000.
Two Golden Ages: masterpieces of Dutch and Danish painting
Lene Bøgh Rønberg, Kasper Monrad and Ragni Linnet, with contributions by Marie Baarspul, Sven Bjerkhof and Walton Glyn Jones
Catalogue of exhibition held in 2001 in Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum) and Copenhagen (Statens Museum for Kunst)
Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum), Zwolle (Waanders) and Copenhagen (Statens Museum for Kunst) 2001