Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 275

 ‒   
 .
Flowers and grapes on a stone sill
(Blomster og vindruer på en marmorkarm)
Oil on canvas,
in. (
Signed and dated: I. L. Jensen,
       :
Bruun Rasmussen, Auction
, lot
, ill.
hen J. L. Jensen broke off from Copenhagen in
for a two-year journey to Italy through Mont-
pellier in southern France, it was first and foremost for the sake of his wife’s health. For a flower
painter, Rome and southern Italy were not a ”must” in the same way as for his contemporary landscape and
figure painters. Jensen had his room decorations behind him, and thus the Pompeian wave that the excava-
tions in Herculaneum and Pompeii initiated did not enthrall him either.
The great nucleus of the Danish colony in Rome was the elder sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (
However, many of Jensen’s peers from the Academy, among them the painters Jørgen Sonne (
Ditlev Blunck (
), Albert Küchler (
) and the sculptor H. V. Bissen (
), as well as the
poet and author Hans Christian Andersen (
), were delighted to visit the Jensen couple’s home in
Rome. They two had a real home, whereas all their friends had gone to Rome alone, and had long prospects
ahead before starting their own homes there.
Now, we should not think that the stay in Italy did not leave its mark in the art of J. L. Jensen. His sense
of shape sharpened, the displays became more assertive, the result bolder. After all, the raw material, the
fruits and flowers, have in the South a color and splendor of shape that obviously must have made an
impression on the flower painter, as it did on all the travelers of that time. For example, Prince Christian
Frederik (
, later King Christian VIII), noted in his diary from his great Italy tour
that in
Strasbourg: “We passed a fruit shop close to the cathedral. I have never seen the like of it, and for travelers
from the Nordic countries, it brings great pleasure to see so many plucked fruits. As it proved, we could not
withstand the temptation either, and a quantity of grapes and peaches were purchased.”
Grapes, oranges, pomegranates, peaches and apricots were now no longer only a pictorial reality that
Jensen could study in the Dutch paintings. Now he lived among the splendors, and had tasted them him-
self. A painting that Bertel Thorvaldsen bought from Jensen, a display with an orange, walnuts and grapes,
contains this self-experienced sensuality, and in spite of its modest size, a monumentality of volume that
only the impression of the great Roman language of shape can explain. This picture, along with five oth-
ers acquired by the sculptor, can today be seen at Thorvaldsens Museum in Copenhagen.
th of November
, Jensen was visited by Hans Christian Andersen. “I saw his Italian flower
painting,” he wrote in the diary.
There is reason to believe that this refers to a very large painting, the
largest Jensen carried out, apart from the room decorations for the Royal Family. The picture depicts
oranges, agave, roses, dahlias and a laperga in a very large marble stand adorned with Thorvaldsen’s relief
and placed in an Italian landscape. This work was purchased by Senator Martin Johan von Jenisch
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