From 28 January to 25 July 2021, the musée Marmottan Monet will give visitors a chance to discover for the first time in France an ensemble of major works by the Danish painter Severin Krøyer (1851–1909). This exhibition is the fruit of a three-year-long scientific partnership undertaken by the musée Marmottan Monet and the Skagen Museum. Placed under the High Patronage of Queen Margrethe II, this scientific partnership will be complemented by the exhibition “Krøyer in Paris” at the Skagen Museum in spring 2022. Krøyer, the master of the Danish painters at the end of the nineteenth century and, in particular, of Vilhelm Hammershøi, was a portraitist, painter of genre scenes, and a landscape painter. The three aspects of his oeuvre will feature in the exhibition, which will bring together sixty of his paintings, which have rarely or never been seen in Paris.
This remarkable ensemble will enable visitors to discover his appearance, that of his wife, for example in the intimate double portrait executed in 1890 from the Skagen Museum, and that of his friends, such as the painter and poet Holger Drachmann (1895, Skagens Kunstmuseer, Skagen). They will also reveal how his models were integrated into landscapes, such as the splendid Roses, executed in 1893 from the Skagen Museum, representing his wife reading beneath an immense rose bush in flower; and in interior scenes such as the early picture entitled Artists’ Luncheon in Cernay-la-Ville (1879, Skagens Kunstmuseer, Skagen), executed when the young painter — who had trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen — continued his training in Léon Bonnat’s studio in Paris, while frequenting the realist painters who followed Léon Germain Pelouse in the Vallée de Chevreuse.
The frequent use of models continued throughout the artist’s career. It is again evident in his oeuvre, after he moved, at the beginning of the 1880s, to Skagen, a fishermen’s village located in the extreme north of Denmark. Fishermen of Skagen, Denmark, Sunset (1883, Skagens Kunstmuseer, Skagen) earned him a medal at the official Salon in Paris in 1884. This distinction marked the beginning of his celebrity in France. Many other awards followed, including medals of honour awarded at the closure of the Universal Expositions of 1889 and 1900. The fishermen of Skagen, their families, and children featured in his works for many years, such as the moving The Departure of the Fishing Fleet (1894, AROS-Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus). Alongside the difficult lives of the fishermen of Skagen, Krøyer also painted the good things of his private life (Women in the Garden. Marie Krøyer and her Mother, 1895, Kulturstiftung Hansestadt Lübeck, Lübeck) and the joyous meetings of the small artists’ colony in Skagen (Hip Hip Hooray!, 1888, Skagens Kunstmuseer, Skagen). At the same time, he successfully exhibited the great paintings that forged his reputation throughout Europe, such as the infinitely poetic and nostalgic Summer Evening on Skagen’s Southern Beach (1893, Skagens Kunsmuseer, Skagen), the double portrait of his wife and their friend, the artist Anna Ancher, walking alone between the sea and the beach, on a narrow strip of sand that traverses the canvas and extends up to the horizon.
During a major Danish exhibition at the Petit Palais in Paris, in 1928, one of the critics, referring to Krøyer, rightly defined him as a ‘lover of light’. Indeed, all his landscape oeuvre was a long independent exploration of light colours and the role of light, at all times of the day and throughout the year. For painting enthusiasts, he brought the ‘blue hour’ – the meteorological phenomenon that precedes twilight and mainly occurs on the distant northern coasts – to life. It is this ‘northern light’ that we will be able to admire for four months on the picture rails of the musée Marmottan Monet.
Exhibition curators: Dominique Lobstein, Art Historian, and Mette Harbo Lehmann, Curator at the Skagen Kunstmuseer