Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 18

the other great Danish collectors of that time bought primarily French and German paintings.
I so admired the work of the artists Mr. Hirschsprung collected, that in the years that followed,
I have generally modeled my “acquisition policy” after his choices. I took him as my personal
mentor (though he had long since died), deciding that any painter he considered outstanding
enough to be in his collection was welcome in mine. His collection is one of the finest and most
encyclopedic collections of Danish
th century art in the world. I have also been influenced by
the late, great art historian, Kirk Varnedoe, (
), the Curator of Painting at the Museum
of Modern Art from
, and a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. His
exhibition, which was mounted at New York City’s Brooklyn Museum and at the Washing-
ton DC’s Corcoran Museum, encouraged and inspired me.
Through the years I have also been ably guided by my dear friends at the Bruun Rasmussen art
auction house in Copenhagen, Jesper and Birthe Rasmussen, their son Frederik, and Birte
Stokholm, head of Rasmussen’s Old Masters Paintings.
, enamored of the painter Vilhelm Hammershøi (whose stature has since grown expo-
nentially worldwide), I bought my first Vilhelm Hammershøi, named
Woman Placing Branches in
a Vase on a Table
, later to be known as part of the famous “Strandgade Series” (painted when the
artist and his wife lived at Strandgade
, a building still in existence).
At the time, Danish newspapers heralded the purchase as the highest price ever paid for any
Danish work of art—
Danish kroner—in dollars: $
. Hammershøi has grown
enormously in prestige and stature, not only in Denmark and Scandinavia, but worldwide.
two of my passions crossed: collecting Danish art, and the study of genealogy. I discov-
ered a portrait of a distant relative of mine in a Danish auction catalogue. At that time his identi-
ty was not known by the seller nor by the auction house. Seeing the portrait, I was sure I knew
the subject of the painting. That was because a photographic reproduction of the painting had
been sitting in a place of honor in my living room for years. He was an eminent forebear of mine.
Sure enough, upon further research, the C.A. Jensen painting for sale proved to be that very same
ancestor—Joseph Hambro, a critically important part of Denmark’s financial history. He was a key
figure in helping to stabilize Denmark’s economy in the early
’s after the Napoleonic wars, and
subsequently founded the world-famous Hambro Bank in London. Joseph Hambro’s grandfather
and my five-times-great grandfather are one and the same. I went on to buy the portrait.
It was the custom in the early
th century for artists to paint replicas of their own work.
Researchers for the material of my catalogue have told me that the portrait I purchased is the
original of the three nearly identical Joseph Hambro portraits painted by C.A. Jensen. An almost
identical one has for nearly two centuries hung in the Copenhagen Stock Exchange.
Despite the guidance of mentors along the way, in the end I have bought only the paintings I
either truly loved or greatly respected. Beyond the thrill of the chase a collector always relishes, I
have the pleasure of living daily with these lovely paintings. I am able to retreat from the frenetic
pace of New York to the quiet of my home where I can enjoy the stillness and tranquility of these
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