Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 200


]
CARL CHRISTIAN CONSTANTIN HANSEN
   ‒         
Constantin Hansen grew up in Copenhagen, but he was born in Rome and baptised in Vienna. His
godmother was Mozart’s widow, Constance, after whom he received his Christian name. He received
his
fi
rst instruction in art from his father, the portraitist Hans Hansen (


). At the age of
twelve he started in the Royal Academy with the intention of becoming an architect, but he later
changed to painting. After the death of his immediate family, he became closely attached to Professor
C.W. Eckersberg. Constantin Hansen was awarded both silver medals, but in

and

he com-
peted in vain for the major gold medal. In

, thanks to funds from the Fonden ad Usus Publicos, he
was able to go to Italy for further training. He lived there for nine years, mainly studying architectural
and decorative painting. Together with his friend, the decorative painter Georg Hilker (


), he
also studied antique painting in Italy with a view to the later decoration of the entrance hall to
Copenhagen University. But during his stay he also executed several portraits and pictures of every-
day life, as well as what is perhaps his best-known work,
A Company of Danish Artists in Rome,

, Statens Museum for Kunst. Seven
fi
gures—Constantin Hansen, the architect Gottlieb Bindesbøll
(


), Martinus Rørbye, Wilhelm Marstrand, Ditlev Blunck (


), and Jørgen Sonne
(


), Albert Küchler (


), (and not forgetting the dog on a chair) are congregated in the
Roman apartment of Bindesbøll. On a table can be seen one of Bindesbøll’s drafts for the planned
museum for the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (


) in Copenhagen.
Constantin Hansen’s earliest works were mostly portraits inspired by his father’s great exemplar Jens
Juel; he often used his sisters as models. In time he specialised in architectural painting, presumably on
the recommendation of Eckersberg, but he is best known for his pictures of ancient buildings. Like Eck-
ersberg twenty years earlier, Hansen sometimes painted colossal but not immediately recognisable frag-
ments of these historical structures, occasionally viewed from very close up and drastically foreshortened.
After returning home from his
fi
rst extended visit abroad, Constantin Hansen joined Hilker in
decorating the entrance hall to Copenhagen University, using a fresco technique that he had recently
learned in Munich (


). In

Constantin Hansen’s painting
Orpheus Ascending from
Tartarus
(Hannover

, cat. No.

, ill. p.

), which was intended to gain him membership in the
Academy, was unfortunately rejected. The same thing happened two months later to Christen Købke.
Both events were unjust and led to a scandal giving rise to much discussion.
Hansen was in France, Holland and Belgium in

, and in

he visited Italy for the last time.
In his later years he again painted a number of portraits including group portraits. The best known
is the mighty
The Constituent National Assembly,


(Frederiksborg).
Constantin Hansen exhibited at Charlottenborg between

and

, though he did not do so
every year, and received various marks of honour and distinctions over the years. In

he was
appointed a titular professor at the Academy, where he was the director from

to

.
S.L.
         :
Emil Hannover,
Constantin Hansen,
Copenhagen

(with oeuvre catalogue); Hannemarie Ragn Jensen, Constantin Hansen,
A

th-Century Danish Classicist in:
Hafnia, Copenhagen Papers in the History of Art
, no.

, Copenhagen

; Stig Miss and Jens Erik Sørensen (eds.),
Constantin Hansen


,
Thorvaldsens Museum, Aarhus Kunstmuseum

; Hannemarie Ragn Jensen in:
Weilbach,
Vol.
, Copenhagen

.
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