The Book


A Little History

The years of 1981-1983 found John L. Loeb Jr., Wall Street investment banker, serving as the United States ambassador to Denmark, appointed by then President Ronald Reagan. Those few years also marked the beginning of his profound interest in Danish art, which has continued for almost a quarter-century.

During his tenure in Copenhagen, Ambassador Loeb found respite from politically charged politics and diplomacy by visiting Danish art museums and galleries. Guided by new friends in the Danish art world and his own instincts, he soon became a passionate collector resulting in what is thought to be the largest private collection of Danish art in the world.

Comprised primarily of 18th, 19th and early 20th-century paintings along with a few contemporary works, the Loeb collection contains a representation of art from the
“Danish Golden Age” (1820-1850), and includes many paintings from “The Modern Breakthrough” dating from the 1880’s,with works by the Skagen artists’ coterie and the enigmatic, nonconformist Vilhelm Hammershøi among the principal figures.These periods have become both well known and highly esteemed among lovers of art and museum curators outside Denmark.

Commissioned by Ambassador Loeb, Danish-American art historian Benedicte Hallowell,
as catalogue project coordinator and contributor, has brought together three nationally respected Danish art historians: Elisabeth Fabritius, Suzanne Ludvigsen and Mette Thelle, to research and provide expert critical commentary on his entire 147-piece collection. Detailed biographies of the 68 artists represented precede each article in the Loeb collection catalogue.

The researchers have assembled a unique catalogue raisonneé, fully illustrated and fully annotated, frequently touching on Danish art’s historical development and offering glimpses into the Danish artistic soul. Ambassador Loeb’s foreword includes anecdotal content about the formation of his collection; Danish art historian Suzanne Ludvigsen provides the catalogue’s insightful introduction.

Ambassador Loeb continues to encourage international interest in Danish art through lectures he presents himself, through the loan of portions of his collection to various museums, and through the sponsorship of annual lectures by such art scholars as Professor Robert Rosenblum of New York University, Professor Patricia Berman of Wellesley College, and Dr. Elisabeth Fabritius, specialist on the Skagen Artists’ Colony. These lectures are held at the American- Scandinavian Foundation, where Ambassador Loeb serves as a member of the board of directors.

With the publication of this catalogue he hopes to achieve even wider recognition of the significance, the beauty, and the importance of Danish art.