Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 28

Vilhelm Kyhn’s works, with motifs from the whole of Denmark, are compelling because they
sprang from the artist’s deep love of his native land, and because throughout his long life he
fought to combat foreign influence on Danish painting, along the lines of the art historian N. L.
Høyen’s vision.
Artists in Denmark in the decades following

were divided into two mutually antagonistic
parties, consisting of followers of Høyen on one side, and those with a broader European hori-
zon on the other, the two groups popularly known as the Blondes and the Brunettes.
Marstrand, Constantin Hansen, P.C. Skovgaard, Dalsgaard, Exner, Bloch and Kyhn were among
those belonging to the Blondes, made up of loyal disciples of the Eckersberg tradition and the
“nationals.” (As a young man, Otto Bache was attracted by the new French movements, but he was
never able to disengage his art from N.L. Høyen’s influence.) There are examples from both the
Blondes and the Brunettes in the Loeb collection, but it is remarkable that the national, “Blonde”
painters are particularly well represented. In the text accompanying Christen Dalsgaard’s
Young
Girl Writing
of

—and repeated by him with three variants, one of which was exhibited in the
World Fair at Paris in

—a comprehensive account has been given of the French and Danish
views on the manner of painting in Danish national romantic art. (Dalsgaard’s picture was one of
the quite small number of Danish pictures to be singled out and praised, but also sharply criticized
as an example of the overall Danish contribution, by critic Paul Mantz in the newspaper
Le Temps.)
In his
Kunstens Historie i Danmark (The History of Art in Denmark)
, written between

and

) Karl Madsen who had started as a painter and in time became an art historian and museum
director gently and subtly restored to the national romantic painters the respect due them,
explaining that at that time critics abroad were not at all interested in any Danish art after Eckers-
berg—who had studied in Paris—and his perhaps most talented pupil, Christen Købke. Karl
Madsen believed that the reason for the negative view of Danish paintings held by French critics
in

was to be found in the fact that Dalsgaard’s young girl’s letter was addressed to the wrong
recipient. You had to be Danish to understand its message:
For us Danes, despite all the formal shortcomings, it tells with understanding and feeling of the spe-
cial quality and beauty of our nature, of the joys and sorrows of the people; it tells both of tender,
wistful dreams and of determined efforts to reach lofty goals; it also tells all the wise and beautiful
thoughts of a great and rich artistic soul
.
It has been said that art is ultimately only what one human being confides to another. The
composition of the Loeb collection shows an unusual sensitivity to the confidences shared in the
national art from the second half of the

th century.
This receptiveness to an erstwhile statement on the Danish soul bears witness to an accom-
plishment worthy of an American ambassador to Denmark.
           
Fjellebro, Denmark
January,


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