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Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, Woman in front of a Mirror, 1841. French Neo-Classicism transmuted into Biedermeier style.

The Danish Golden Age or the Golden Age of Danish Painting are terms commonly used to describe the period of creative production between 1800 and the 1850s.[1] It encompasses the work of Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg and his students, including among others Wilhelm Bendz, Christen Købke, Martinus Rørbye, Constantin Hansen, and Wilhelm Marstrand as well the sculpture of Bertel Thorvaldsen.

Visual art

Around the beginning of the 19th century the Golden Age of Danish Painting emerged to form a distinct national style for the first time since the Middle Ages; the period lasted until the middle of the 19th century. It has a style drawing on Dutch Golden Age painting, especially its landscape painting,[2] and depicting northern light that is soft but allows strong contrasts of colour. The treatment of scenes is typically an idealized version of reality, but unpretentiously so, appearing more realist than is actually the case. Interior scenes, often small portrait groups, are also common, with a similar treatment of humble domestic objects and furniture, often of the artist's circle of friends. Little Danish art was seen outside the country (indeed it mostly remains there to this day) and the Danish-trained leader of German Romantic painting Caspar David Friedrich was important in spreading its influence in Germany.

A crucial figure was Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, who had studied in Paris with Jacques-Louis David and was further influenced towards Neo-Classicism by Thorwaldsen. Eckersberg taught at the Academy from 1818 to 1853, becoming Director from 1827-28, and was an important influence on the following generation, in which landscape painting came to the fore.[3][4] He taught most of the leading artists of the period, including:[5]

  • Wilhelm Bendz (1804-1832), remembered for his many technically accomplished portraits of fellow artists such as Ditlev Blunck and Christen Christensen, a scene from the Academy's anatomy class, as well as the group portraits "A Tobacco Party" and "Artist in the Evening at Finck's Coffee House in Munich";
A company of Danish artists in Rome, painted by Constantin Hansen, 1837. Lying on the floor is architect Bindesbøll. From left to right: Constantin Hansen, Martinus Rørbye, Wilhelm Marstrand, Albert Küchler, Ditlev Blunck and Jørgen Sonne.
  • Constantin Hansen (1804-1880), deeply interested in literature and mythology, and inspired by Niels Lauritz Høyen, he developed national historical painting based on Norse mythology and painted many portraits, including the historical The Constitutional Assembly (Den grundlovgivende Rigsforsamling);
  • Christen Købke (1810-48), influenced by Niels Lauritz Høyen, an art historian who promoted a nationalistic approach calling for artists to search for subject matter in the folk life of their country instead of searching for themes in other countries such as Italy;
  • Wilhelm Marstrand (1810-1873), a vastly productive artist who mastered a remarkable variety of genres, remembered especially for a number of his works which have become familiar signposts of Danish history and culture: scenes from the drawing-rooms and streets of Copenhagen during his younger days; the festivity and public life captured in Rome; the many representative portraits of citizens and innovators; even the monumentalist commissions for universities and the monarchy;
  • Martinus Rørbye (1803-1848), remembered for his genre paintings of Copenhagen, for his landscapes and for his architectural paintings, as well as for the many sketches he made during his travels to countries rarely explored at the time.

Among other artists, C.A. Jensen (1792-1870) specialized almost exclusively in portraits.

At the end of the period painting style, especially in landscape art, became caught up in the political issue of the Schleswig-Holstein Question, a vital matter for Danes, but notoriously impenetrable for most others in Europe.

Other arts

Non-visual artists associated with this period include writers Adam Oehlenschläger, Bernhard Severin Ingemann and Hans Christian Andersen, the actress Johanne Luise Heiberg and the ballet master and choreographer August Bournonville. Discussions of this period also commonly include the writings of Søren Kierkegaard and Nicolai Grundtvig.


  1. ^ Kulturnet Danmark, Guide to the Danish Golden Age
  2. ^ Dutch paintings, and landscapes, dominated in the 18th century Danish collections that we have records of. North, 308-9[1]
  3. ^ Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg. From National Gallery of Art. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  4. ^ Boime, 504-5
  5. ^ Visual Arts from Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 3 November 2009.


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