Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 105

CHRISTEN DALSGAARD
             ‒     
Christen Dalsgaard never travelled outside Denmark. The story of his life can be divided into two
chapters, the
fi
rst deriving from northern Jutland, the second from Copenhagen and especially central
Zealand.
The artist was born in the small Renaissance mansion of Krabbesholm which, together with its
adjoining land, was in the possession of his parents, Jens Dalsgaard and Christiane Rasmussen.
Krabbesholm, now a public high school, was built in the middle of the

th century. It looks out on the
southeastern part of the Limfjord in the thinly populated north Jutland region of Salling, close to the
market town of Skive. Various features of Christen Dalsgaard’s upbringing presumably became
engraved in his mind and made their mark on his artistic development.
He was one of nine children. Three of them died as infants and one at the age of
fi
fteen, while a
grown sister reached the age of only twenty-one. Despite the burden of these sorrows and irrespective
of the fact that throughout her life the mother su
ff
ered from such a severe rheumatic condition that she
was incapable of walking and had to be carried around, the artist’s parents were able to create a har-
monious, stimulating childhood and upbringing for the four remaining brothers.
That Christen became an artist was due to his innate talent, but he was presumably also encour-
aged from home to cultivate his abilities. The great hall of the mansion is decorated with resplendent
colourful rococo decorations on the ceiling and walls executed in

by the artist Olaus Carolus
Wassman (


), commissioned by the then owner of the house, Verner Rosenkrantz, who had
had Krabbesholm renovated and modernised. It is highly likely that Christen Dalsgaard’s imagination
derived nourishment at an early age from the array of these colourful pictures. Despite the primitive
quality of their execution they are, according to one Danish art historian, a decoration of great e
ff
ect
containing “a wild profusion in the tracery and vitality and strength of the rococo ornamentation
above the resonance of the reddish browns against the blue panels.”
¹
Equipped with an understanding of life and a certain artistic experience, Christen Dalsgaard
went to Copenhagen in

to train as a painter under a master by the name of Harboe. He was
admitted to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts that same year, and remained associated with it
until January

, for a time as a private pupil of Martinus Rørbye.
Dalsgaard was soon
fi
red by the art historian Niels Lauritz Høyen’s appeal to young artists to
paint national art, in this case portrayals of the life of the ordinary people in the most outlying areas
of Denmark, where the original way of life had been preserved. Further encouraged by Rørbye, Dals-
gaard went home to Krabbesholm every summer to make studies of the landscapes around the Lim-
fjord and of the local farming and
fi
shing population dressed in their local costumes and to portray
the rooms and workplaces in which they spent their daily lives. Throughout his life he preserved his
collection of drawn and painted sketches from the Salling region, making constant use of them for
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