Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 112

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]
CHRISTOFFER WILHELM ECKERSBERG
     ‒    
C.W. Eckersberg’s father was a carpenter and painter from Blaakrog near Aabenraa in Southern Jut-
land, at that time part of the Duchy of Schleswig. The son trained as an artisan painter at Aabenraa
and Flensburg.
In

Eckersberg was admitted to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen,
where the history painter and architect Nicolai Abildgaard (


) became his teacher. During his
six years at the Academy he succeeded in winning a silver and subsequently both gold medals. The
award of the major gold medal quali
fi
ed him for the Academy’s major travel grant. From

to

he studied in Paris, where for rather more than a year there he was a pupil of the neo-classical artist
Jacques-Louis David (


). He spent the next three years in Rome, where he lived in the same
building as the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (


).
Between

and

, Eckersberg made a number of short voyages by steamship from Copen-
hagen to Sweden, Norway, Kiel and Warnemünde, this latter in the company of Thorvaldsen. He also
sailed on the corvette
¹
Galathea to Dover (spending half a day in London) and Hamburg, Germany.
The huge range of motifs in C.W. Eckersberg’s oeuvre encompassed a certain number of genre pic-
tures and paintings of everyday life, among which were some noteworthy scenes from the

Copen-
hagen bombardment by the English. He also painted architectural pictures and city views of Paris and
especially Rome, as well as portraits,
fi
gure pictures and historical compositions. To all this could be
added the decoration of Christiansborg palace and some altarpieces, a few landscapes and a large
number of marine paintings. Eckersberg exhibited at Charlottenborg between

and

.
In

C.W. Eckersberg was appointed Professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, a post
he held until his death thirty-
fi
ve years later. His teaching was of enormous importance for the devel-
opment of painting during the period that has since come to be known as “The Danish Golden Age.”
He carried through a series of reforms. For instance, painting from life was modernised. The mod-
els were placed in less idealised and more natural postures, and the use of female nudes was intro-
duced into the teaching. (See the Loeb collection for works by his students: Joel Ballin’s
Young Girl
Undressing
, Constantin Hansen’s
Study of a Male Model
and L.A. Smith’s
Female Model
Before a Mirror,

.)
Eckersberg’s pupils learned to use local colour and to paint bright daylight
into their pictures at the same time avoiding disturbing re
fl
ections or dramatic shadow e
ff
ects. No sub-
ject was too ordinary to be turned into a picture, and honest, meticulous reproduction of what was
seen was the implacable requirement. In addition, there were several invariable rules, of which the use
of the perspective measuring tool was de rigueur. Eckersberg wrote two textbooks on this subject, and
his lessons in the use of perspective were epoch-making.
But what was really new at the time and had never been taught before in any European academy
of
fi
ne arts, were the lessons in the open air. Professor Eckersberg took his students out on excursions
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