Saturday, May 8, 2010

Christen Købke

Christen Købke (1810-1848) was a realist painter who produced scrupulously observed landscapes and portraits. Unfortunately, he is not well known outside of his native Denmark.

This oil portrait of an old sailor dates from 1832, when he was just 22 years old.

The paintings of Købke (pronounced keub-kuh) were penetrating and uncompromising in their realism, placing him in the company of Thomas Eakins, Adolf von Menzel, Ivan Kramskoi, and John Constable.

Købke was active in the 1830s, during Denmark’ Golden Age. This was the time of Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard.

Why is he not better known? His paintings are very small (the sailor portrait is 12 x 10 inches); they show modest subjects; he didn’t sell paintings or otherwise engage with the critical establishment or the marketplace; few of his paintings left Denmark; and he died fairly young.

There’s a good book in English on him written by Sanford Schwartz (Timken Publishers, 1992) though the reproductions are small on the page.

Exhibit through June 13 at London's National Gallery. (Video included on link).


Tim said...

Lovely James! I have some high res photos I took of the last two paintings you posted when I was at the Hirshsprung. Would you like me to send them to you, or put them up on my blog?

Cheers Tim

Tim said...

Oh yea, just to make you jealous, Ill be seeing this exhibit, the Philip De Lazlo exhibit at the Nat portrait gallery and the Paul Sandby watercolor exhibit next in a few weeks time, not to mention the Chelsea flower show. YEA!

stigbn said...

Købke has always been one of my favourite painters, and here in Denmark he is very well known. And he didn't always paint small
try search for "Parti af Østerbro i morgenbelysning" over 40 inches.
Other Danish painters to look out for: Johan Thomas Lundbye, Janus La Cour, Peder Mønsted.

Morgen said...

My favorite Danish painter is also not well known, Carl Heinrich Bloch. He is every bit as good as Bouguereau and paints incredibly huge life size paintings. An absolute academic master. My favorite painting is Healing at the Pool of Bethesda.

Tim said...

Dont forget LA Ring

and C.W Eckersberg

Here is a list of Danish artists

David Still said...

Aah, the Nordic masters... There was a load of them! And about the de Laszlo exhibition; consider me jealous!

Anonymous said...

In Denmark, "The Golden Age" means painters like Købke, Eckersberg, Mønsted and la Cour. A visit to the Hirschprung collection in Copenhagen is highly recommended for anyone who happens to be in this part of the world.

And if you are there, don't miss the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek - they also have a lot of sketches and unfinished works by these golden age painters, among them a series of figure paintings done at the same time from the same model, but by different painters and obviously from slightly different angles. A fascinating glimpse of one day in art school in the 19th century.