Tag Archives: Denmark

Laurits Andersen Ring – Young Girl Looking Out a Window

4 Dec

“City of swarming, city full of dreams
Where ghosts in daylight tug the stroller’s sleeve!
Mysteries everywhere run like the sap
That fills this great colossus’ conduits.

One morning, while along the sombre street
The houses, rendered taller by the mist….”

(Baudelaire, Seven Old Men)

Laurits Andersen Ring, Young Girl Looking Out a Window, 1885

A young girl is standing by the window and looking out at the urban grey cityscape; grey skies and old roofs gradually disappearing in the mist. Their brown and fading brick red shades are the only colour in this sea of greyness. Then there’s also the soft pink of the girl’s cheek, perhaps from the cold winter air, or perhaps thoughts of distant beloved someone have turned her cheek into a summer’s garden of pink roses. She is dressed in simple, somber attire, and we see so little of her face that it is hard to tell what she is feeling, but we can imagine. She’s clearly a poor, working class girl, yearning for more. Perhaps she moved from the countryside as many have at the time, including the painter himself, and now, looking out of her small attic window at the “swarming city, city full of dreams” she doesn’t see the things that were promised to her. Even though it isn’t shown on the painting, we can imagine the rest of the scene; a poorly furnished cold little room, with old wooden floor, a tattered worn-out wooden furniture, little comfort and little brightness and little warmth, a perfect background for a Joy Division song to play in the background and flood the space and the girl’s life with an even greater sea of misery. It must be a singularly dreary late autumn day, for if it was a winter day, the roofs of Copenhagen would have probably been covered in a layer of snow. These verses seem as if they were directed to this girl looking out of her window:

Tell me, does your heart sometimes fly away, Agatha,
Far from the black ocean of the filthy city,
Toward another ocean where splendor glitters,
Blue, clear, profound, as is virginity?
Tell me, does your heart sometimes fly away, Agatha?

(Baudelaire, The Flowers of Evil, translated by William Aggeler, 1954)

Born as Laurits Andersen in 1854 in a little village of Ring, as a carpenter’s son, the ambitious Danish painter added “Ring” to his name as a way to differentiate himself from a fellow painter Hans Andersen Brendekilde (who added Bredenkiled himself out of the same reason) because they both exhibited their paintings at a joint exhibition in 1881. Ring began his art journey as a painter’s apprentice in his village, took some private classes in painting while working in Copenhagen in 1873, until he was accepted as a student at the Danish Academy of Arts and for a while studied under Peder Severin Krøyer, but he never liked the discipline and themes promoted by the Academy. You know someone is a great painter if they rebel against the Academy. The painting “Young Girl Looking Out a Window” is a fairly early and a fairly unknown work, at least compared to his more famous paintings, such as his Northern landscapes and village scenes which tackle the difficult aspects of poor people’s lives. Ring was very interested in the social justice and portraying realism in art, real things and real people, and not mythological fantasy themes. He didn’t want to escape reality, he wanted to tame it and transform it into colours and forms on his canvases. And this painting of a sad-looking girl gazing out the window was painted at the time when Ring himself was struggling financially and artistically, and spent a winter in an attic room in Copenhagen, living more on his ambitions than on bread and butter. Also, the way she was painted, seen from the profile and crammed into the very corner of the canvas, is something he typically did.

Peder Severin Krøyer – Summer Evening on the Skagen Beach

9 Sep

“I’m the lonely voyager standing on deck, and she’s the sea. The sky is a blanket of gray, merging with the gray sea off on the horizon. It’s hard to tell the difference between sea and sky. Between voyager and sea. Between reality and the workings of the heart.” (Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore)

Peder Severin Krøyer, Summer Evening on the Skagen Southern Beach with Anna Ancher and Marie Krøyer, 1893

What I love about this painting is that it reminds me of music, an echo of soft fairy whispers mingled with fading notes of the piano… and then silence. It has a gentleness and stillness that sends our mind into a reverie, or inspires us to contemplate on eternity in a similar way that Caspar David Friedrich’s landscapes do. Here Krøyer painted the most melancholy and profound moment of the day: twilight with its endless dreamy blueness. The soft meandering line which separates the world of sea waves with the white sand of the coast is very dreamy because it suggest infinity and leads the viewer’s eye towards unknown distances. Two ladies are walking slowly right near that dreamy line, one can feel the water touching their dresses when the wave comes or see their footsteps appearing after each step in the wet sand. The colour palette is particularly dreamy as well, aerial, soft and gentle with plenty of white, grey, blue and hints of toned yellow in the sand and on the dresses. They are walking arm in arm, in intimate conversation, just two figures walking towards infinity. Without the figures, this painting would be yet another landscape, but with the figures added in, the painting gets an emotional depth, ironically, the inclusion of figures reminds us of the loneliness of the beach. Two lone figures, might as well be ghosts in white gowns, for their faces we cannot see, walking slowly and leaving barely a trace of their existence.

Skagen is Denmark’s northernmost town and is closer to the coast of Sweden than to Copenhagen. In Krøyer’s time it was a remote fishers village whose understated beauty is revealed through the eyes of the group of painter appropriately called “The Skagen Artists”. Nowadays, Krøyer is the most well-known from this group, but they were all interested in similar themes; the beauty of the cold northern sea, fishers and harvests, and, in a manner similar to the Impressionists, they meticulously devoted themselves to portraying the effects of sunlight and people having fun, mostly their families and friends. Below we have a similar painting by Michael Archer, a fellow painter from the Skagen group of artists. Again, it has that gorgeous immeasurable lightness and a long clear diagonal line between the sandy beach and the sea, how romantically it stretches on and on. Lonely mood is toned down because of the five female figures in pastel coloured dresses, but a hint of melancholy is left in the face of the girl who treads the beach first, gazing down at the sand, lost in thoughts, following the shadow that falls in front of her.

Michael Ancher, A stroll on the beach, 1896

I imagine that the seaside looks exquisite this time of the year; I imagine the soft sand untainted by human footsteps, the sky clear and grey-blue, not even a seagull is flying by. Smell of salt hangs in the melancholy air. When I gaze at these paintings, I can almost hear the waves playing Debussy’s “La Mer”, soothing my soul with each passing note… And there in the distance, the sky and the sea are becoming one in a kiss.

Queen Alexandra – Life in photos

1 Dec

Queen Alexandra was born on 1. December 1844. – one hundred and seventy two years ago. Her full name was Alexandra Caroline Marie Charlotte Louise Julia and she was a daughter of  Christian IX. of Denmark and Louise of Hesse-Kassel.

1860. Queen Alexandra in her youth years

Her close family knew her as ‘Alix’ and although she was of royal blood, she lived pretty modestly and shared her attic room with her sister Dagmar (later Maria Feodorovna, Tsarina of Russia.) As a child she was taught swimming and English, and she remain a devoted christian her entire life.

She married Edward VII. on 10. March 1863. They eventually had six children, but their youngest son died a day after he was born. Alexandra was a devoted mother who loved her children very much. Their children were:

– Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale

– Prince George, Duke of York

– Princess Louise, Princess Royal

– Princess Victoria

– Princess Maud

1862. Princess Alexandra of Denmark

I’ve chosen a title ‘Queen Alexandra – Life in photos’ because she was an amateur photographer herself and she took a lot of photos of her children and family. She was also interested in hunting (much to Queen’s disapproval) and dancing, ice-skating and horseback riding. Alexandra was extremely socially active and she attended balls, dances, dinners, meetings, visited hospitals and orphanages.

But the thing that I love the most about Queen Alexandra is her fashion style. She was a fashion icon of her time and photos of her are surely a proof. Enjoy!

1862. Alix and Minnie with their mother Queen Louise of Denmark

1862. Alix and Minnie with their mother Queen Louise of Denmark

1862. Engagement of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark

1862. Engagement of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark

1863. Alexandra, Princess of Wales

1863. Princess Alexandra of Wales

1863. Princess Alexandra of Denmark and the Prince of Wales

1863. Princess Alexandra of Denmark and the Prince of Wales

1863. Princess-Grand Duchess Alice with Princess Alexandra of Wales and Grand Duke Ludwig with Prince of Wales

1863. Princess-Grand Duchess Alice with Princess Alexandra of Wales and Grand Duke Ludwig with Prince of Wales

1865. Queen Alexandra of England, Princess of Denmark

1865. Princess Alexandra of Wales.

1865. queen victoria, alexandra and edward

1865. Princess Alexandra, Queen Victoria and Edward

1866. charming piece of a session about the Princess Alexandra of Wales taken in December, by André A.E. Disdéri

1867. Princess Alexandra of Wales.

1868. Queen Alexandra

c. 1871. Princess Alexandra of Wales.

1871. Alix and Minnie with their sister Thyra

1871. Alix and Minnie with their sister Thyra

1873. Piccadilly, London, of Queen Alexandra with her sister the Tsarina Marie Feodorovna

1873.  Queen Alexandra with her sister the Tsarina Marie Feodorovna, Piccadilly, London

1880s Sisters Princess Alexandra, the future Queen of the United Kingdom and Princess Dagmar of Denmark

1880s Sisters Princess Alexandra, the future Queen of the United Kingdom and Princess Dagmar of Denmark

1883. Queen Alexandra of England

1883. Princess Alexandra of Wales.

1884. Queen Alexandra in a seaside dress

1884. Princess Alexandra in a seaside dress

1889. Alexandra of Denmark

1889. Princess Alexandra of Wales

1890s Queen Alexandra with Princess Maud

Queen Alexandra with her daughter Princess Maud

1893. Alexandra of Wales with daughters Maud, Victoria and Louise, duchess of Fife at Prince George´s wedding

1893. Alexandra of Wales with daughters Maud, Victoria and Louise, duchess of Fife at Prince George’s wedding

1894. Maria Feodorovna her two daughters Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, Queen Alexandra and her daughter Princes

1894. Maria Feodorovna her two daughters Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna and Queen Alexandra with her daughter Princess Maud.

1900s Alexandra of Denmark

1900s Queen Alexandra.

1900s Queen Alexandra with Princess Louise and Princess Victoria

1900s Queen Alexandra with Princess Louise and Princess Victoria

1905. Queen Alexandra

1901. Queen Alexandra.