Danish golden age paintings, Thorvaldsens Museum

When Thorvaldsen began to make money in Rome from his sculptural work, he became a collector of art with a special interest in paintings.

This guided tour gives you a broad presentation of the Danish Golden Age and its art. Danish art from the period 1800 – 1850 has been named the Golden Age, because it stands out from art from other periods of Danish art, and because Danish art for the first time stands out from contemporary non-Danish art due to its independent expression.

You can also see beautiful paintings from the Danish Golden Age, emerged to form a distinct national style, it has a style drawing on Dutch Golden Age painting, especially its landscape painting, 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.

The preliminary drawings – preferably composition drawings – which were done in front of the motif were meticulously constructed and reproduced many details. Architecture received the painters’ greatest attention, whereas vegetation, rocks and stones as well as figures in the landscape received a lower priority. The drawing done directly from the motif was squared up in several instances with a view to its transference to the painting, which was often no larger than the drawing. Some elements could be altered during the process, but by and large the artist retained the original dispositions quite precisely. In some cases the architecture was consciously altered so as to strengthen the forms and create harmony in the picture.

Thorvaldsens Museum

Thorvaldsens Museum opened on 18 September 1848 and was the first public museum building in Denmark. The characteristic museum building was built to exhibit the extensive life’s work of the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) and today still looks more or less as it did when it opened over 150 years ago.

Thorvaldsens Museum also contains Thorvaldsen’s drawings and sketches for sculptures and reliefs. In addition Thorvaldsen was a passionate collector, so the museum also exhibits his extensive collections of paintings from his own time and collections of artworks and objects from Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquity. The museum also shows changing exhibitions that go into greater depth with aspects of the permanent collections, including contemporary art.