Advent Calendar – Door 10: A garden gate

Christen Købke, The Garden Gate at the Artist’s Home at Blegdammen
Oil on paper laid down on canvas, c. 1845
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (CC0)

There’s quite a lot of material from Scandinavian museums in the Europeana Collections, and browsing through them made me realise that I don’t know nearly as much about the history of art in the Scandinavian countries as I would like to. Danish painter Christen Købke (1810-1848) is a case in point. He was a talented portraitist and landscape painter, but, perhaps most importantly, one of the first artists to shift the focus from the sublime and/or the stereotypical to realistic snippets of everyday life. The small oil sketch of his own garden gate is a good example for this aspect of his work.

The thing is, though: While I believe, I’d heard Købke’s name before, I can’t really say that I was familiar with his work even though he belongs to what is often called the “Golden Age of Danish Painting”. At the same time, I have a fairly profound knowledge of German and Austrian painting of that era, and I can see similarities there. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, apart from the select handful of “great” artists who were renowned and influential on an international level, the way we engage with art history is still very much defined by cultural and national borderlines – and that is even within Europe, without even touching on issues of eurocentrism and the whole wide world of “global art history”… But today is not the time to go down that particular road, although I likely will return to it at some point in the future. For now, let’s just enjoy one more of Købke’s painting and the admittedly limited view of the world as it appears from a certain loft in Copenhagen:

Christen Købke
View from the Loft of the Grain Store at the Bakery in the Citadel of Copenhagen
Oil on canvas, 1831, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (CC0)


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