Friday, 23 August 2013

Paintings of the Danish 'Modern Impressionism' movement

Mum's aunt's husband Elmer Johansen had these paintings. Although he was Danish - and she was Australian - they lived in New Zealand where Elmer was a ferry-boat captain transporting people between the North Island and the South Island. They had no children. Madge predeceased Elmer and when Elmer died the paintings passed to mum's brother, who died about five years ago. His son passed the paintings to me and I had them cleaned and reframed. I also had a valuation made through Art Valuation Services Australasia, which is based in Sydney.

Madge Dean met Elmer on a Pacific island where she was working as a teacher and he worked as a stevedore. It seems that Elmer received a painting of his father's done by an artist named Fritz Kraul. On the back of the painting someone has written in explanation:
Fritz Kraul lived in Koge, a small fishing village, 18 miles south of Copenhagen. There was a Battle of Koge Bay in the 17th century. He was a member of the Academy of Art. He specialised in tree paintings. This was painted in 1912. Elmer’s father did not like the figure of a lady, and had it repainted …
The rest of the explanation has been peeled off, so I can't read it. According to the market valuation report Kraul was best known for his many illustrations of children's books, almanacs and Christmas books. "Kraul adopts a traditional, naturalistic style, and mainly features landscapes, cityscapes, interiors and the still life." More important from my point of view is the fact that Elmer seems to have gained an appetite for acquiring paintings from his father.

It's almost impossible at this point in time to say which painting Elmer acquired next, but I presume it was this one by Elias Petersen, dated 1921, which shows a maritime scene with sailboats and a steamer, and waves rolling into the foreground.

When I received the paintings they were in a sad state and had acquired a heavy coat of grime from exposure to the domestic environment over many decades, so I had them cleaned. This small work by Petersen was in addition quite badly warped on its stretcher and the art restorer restretched it so that it sits true and tight.

The market valuation report notes that the pictures belong to the 'Danish Modern Impressionist' movement which, it says, "is not deemed as important historically compared to other Danish movements from the same period". It also says that the painters of this movement are not well-known outside Denmark and "received their greatest acclaim in the 1920-30s" when "the Modern Impressionist artists flourished the most". Most of the artists represented in the group attended the Academy of Arts of Copenhagen at the end of the 1880s.

Probably the next painting in the group was this one by Ole Wolhardt Stampe Due, who died in 1925. Due has nine works displayed in Danish museums.

I assume that the next painting in the collection was this one by Poul Friis Nybo, who died in 1929.

The valuation report notes that Nybo has two works in Danish museums: Den Gamle By and the Skagens Museum. It also says that the artist "is highly sought after for his interior scenes".

The next one I think is this one by Elias Petersen, which is dated 1930, and shows a sand dune running down to a beach and a bay.

Then comes a painting dated 1932 by Theodore Bernard Dahl showing a farmhouse and a large tree.

The last painting in the group is by an unkown artist whose name ends with 'ensen', so it could be Jensen or Hohensen. It's quite a richly-coloured piece showing a large tree with deer grazing on grass in the forest in the background.

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