I had to be dragged along to the National Gallery of Denmark. We were only in Copenhagen for an afternoon so time was precious and I’d wanted to go to a couple of other places…..
Was I wrong. This Italian Renaissance revival style gallery is cram packed full of masterpieces from Western art from the beautiful St John the Baptist of Lorenzetti to the classic French modernism of Matisse. Approximately 9,000 paintings and sculptures and 300,000 works on paper live here but it’s a gallery that is spacious and light and never feels cramped. It’s a pleasure to walk around. And a surprise to see so many superb paintings in one of the Nordic Galleries. (Stockholm was a bit of a disappointment for me. There are a few fantastic paintings but not many. It does have some great exhibitions though. They’re going to close it soon to renovate for a few years.)
There are so many fantastic highlights but one of my favourites was The Matisse Room. Containing one of his joyous Collioure paintings from 1905 as well as the famous portrait of Madame Matisse also 1905 ( The Green Line) and 25 other magical works.
The beauties of Danish Art are of course on show here with more than 400 works in 24 freshly renovated exhibition rooms (yes I’m into numbers today!). Other than Vilhelm Hammershoi (1864-1916) I didn’t know much about it. But the artistry and poetry of many of the Danish landscape artists especially from the 19th century stood out- Johan Thomas Lundbye, Peter Christian Skovgaard, Christen Kobke. It was the quality of the light and the simplified compositions that struck me the most. Each room has a theme such as the body in art or dialogue with europe etc. If you want to know more about Danish art this is the place to come.
The painting to the right is by Niels Skovgaard (1858-1938) ‘Heavy swells at the West coast of Jutland’ (1894) I really like the simplicity of this painting. It could’ve been boring as it’s just two rectangles in a rectangle (canvas). But it’s not as the waves are so true to nature. So it’s got freshness and energy.
And then after you’ve exhausted yourself you can go to the new (1998) C F Moller designed cafe/restaurant which overlooks the botanical gardens. (Quite different style of food here. I think it was the combination of tastes. Nothing like swedish food which is what I was expecting. No salmon on the menu!)
National Gallery of Denmark (Website)
Statens Museum for Kunst
Phone +45 3374 8494
Fax +45 3374 8404
Tuesday-Sunday: 10.00 -17.00
Wednesday: 10.00 – 20.00
Free admission to The Collections
Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. Twyla Tharp