Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 292

JENS JØRGENSEN JUEL
       ‒   
Jens Juel is considered one of the most outstanding of Danish artists. The painter Hans Hansen
(


), the father of Constantin Hansen, wrote of him in his diary, “If angels could paint, I
scarcely think they could do it much better.” Juel’s portraiture stands comparison with the best in its
age, but he is nevertheless still almost unknown outside Denmark, and little is known of his person-
ality or his life.
Juel grew up in a modest home on the island of Funen, where his father was a schoolteacher. He
was
fi
rst taught to paint portraits with a master in Hamburg, where the dominant ideal was a sound
and modest portrayal inspired by Dutch art. At the age of twenty, he continued in the Royal Danish
Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, where he became one of the talented young men who lived up
to the expectations of an artistic training in Denmark.
The Academy was founded by the absolute monarch, Frederik V in

, and French artists
brought in for the purpose occupied posts as professors until the beginning of the

’s. The demands
made on composition by history painting did not come easily to Juel, and only in

did he succeed
in winning the
fi
nal gold medal. During his time at the Academy, Juel received numerous commissions
for portraits, the results of which re
fl
ect his development towards an ever greater sophistication in the
use of materials and colours as well as composition. He learned chiaroscuro painting (which was still
rococo) from the Swedish-born professor and court painter C.G. Pilos (


), but he learned more
especially from the new French portrait art of his time, which he could study in the magni
fi
cent works
resulting from the time Louis Tocqué (


) spent in Denmark in

/

. Juel’s most impor-
tant work from this period is the portrait of the very young Queen Caroline Mathilde (

), in
Statens Museum for Kunst. She is dressed in a fur-edged turquoise silk dress, the color matching her
eyes and forming a contrast to her skin with its white porcelain quality.
On the basis of several years’ support by a number of private patrons, Juel was given the oppor-
tunity to travel abroad to visit the major artistic centres of the time with their local masters and rich
collections of art. He left Denmark in

, going
fi
rst to Hamburg, then Dresden, and
fi
nally reach-
ing Rome in

, where Pompeo Batoni’s (


) full-length portraits were of great importance
to him. In the autumn of

he reached Paris, where he could see modern neo-classical portrait
painting. Spring

found him in Switzerland, where his art was so admired that for the next three
years he was busily engaged in painting the portraits of the leading families in Geneva. In the best
English manner, several of them show
fi
gures sitting in a park, for instance Mathilde de Prangin
(

/

) and the envoy to the French court, Jean-Armand Tronchin (

), both in Statens Museum
for Kunst. By chance, he also here met the poet J.W. Goethe (


), whose face he drew.
After returning home in

, Juel became, in quick succession, court painter, a member of the
Academy and a professor there, and he now revealed his talent and his ability as Denmark’s leading

]
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