Peder Severin Krøyer was one the most sought-after portrait painters of his time. Now, we show some of his highest achievements within the genre. The monumental portraits were commissioned by prominent representatives from trade, industry, the arts and are important contributions – not only to Danish art history, but to Danish history in general.
The painter Peder Severin Krøyer (1851-1909) was a pioneer of plein-air painting in Denmark and is celebrated for his paintings depicting the Skagen artists’ colony and the local people in Skagen.
However, Krøyer also mastered other genres and was simultaneously one of the most popular portrait painters among the bourgeoisie, portraying numerous dignitaries from Denmark’s cultural and mercantile elite. Krøyer’s portrait painting culminated in the period 1888-1904, where he created some of the largest and most populous monumental group portraits in Danish art history.
In contemporary criticism, several of the works included in the exhibition were praised as masterpieces. This begs the question: is it possible to commission a masterpiece? Apparently it is, provided that you would commission it from Krøyer – although the theme, subject, and composition of the pieces in question was far from that of the paintings, which Krøyer was generally associated with and known for.
The exhibition chronicles the history of the monumental group portraits and Krøyer’s creative process by exhibiting the finished canvasses together with sketches and preliminary studies. Unfolding the stories of the scenes and sitters, the exhibition reveals Krøyer’s talent and ability to capture the atmosphere, draw individual character portraits and make well-balanced compositions.
Displayed together, the large canvasses reveal how Krøyer captured the spirit of the decades surrounding the turn of the 20th century. The paintings are portraits of Denmark’s powerful elite – the directors of industry, the leading scientists, the wealthy merchants and entrepreneurs, and the cosmopolitan élite of the arts connected to the 1888 French Exhibition in Copenhagen.
The existence of Krøyer’s monumental group portraits is unknown to many. We look forward to displaying this side of Krøyer’s work, which he would work on during the winters in Copenhagen as a complement to the works he created in Skagen during the summer.
Several of the works were until now not available to the general public, and they will be exhibited together for the first time.