Why Copenhagen of all places? Located on Europe's periphery, Copenhagen's small Academy of Fine Arts was at the forefront of developments in European art during the first half of the 19th century. The 'golden age' of Danish painting is largely associated with the long tenure at the academy of Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, who taught his students the importance of both precision in nature studies and absolute rigour in observations of atmospheric conditions and perspective. A growing groundswell of national sentiment had brought in its wake a new appreciation for domestic themes in art, heralding a new era of Danish painting.
It was not only Danes and Norwegians who were drawn to the Academy, but also artists from northern Germany: Caspar David Friedrich, Georg Friedrich Kersting, Johan Christian Clausen Dahl – figures associated in later life with Dresden Romanticism, studied in Copenhagen. In turn, a considerable number of students from Copenhagen stopped off in Dresden en route to Italy to meet Dahl and Friedrich. Thus these two proponents of the Romantic tradition reciprocated the influence of their alma mater.
The intimate 'cabinet exhibition' in the Alte Nationalgalerie focuses on this 'Golden Age of Danish art' and its emergence around 1800. It explores the works of Friedrich and Dahl, who studied at the Academy and in later years worked in Dresden, as well as those of Eckerburg and his students – and features their seascapes, patriotic landscapes, and figure studies.
Already known to many as a donor to numerous museums, Christoph Müller has for a number of years been a collector of 19th century Danish art. His collection, supplemented by some of the Alte Nationalgalerie's own works, is the source of the pictures, studies, and drawings from the 'Copenhagen School of Painting' brought together in this display, which we hope will feature at least forty finely observed landscapes, seascapes, and portraits.
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