Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe

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The Society for Scandinavian Art

  • AssociationsVisual artsDanishScandinavian
  • Author:
    Grand, Karina Lykke
  • Cultural Field:
    Society
  • Text:

    Scandinavian cultural sentiment was very strong in Denmark between the late 1830s and the 1850s, after a discursive and literary run-up (poems, journalism) involving the likes of Frederik Barfod, N.F.S. Grundtvig, Adam Oehlenschläger, and Carl Ploug. The anti-absolutist radicalism of Barfod and Ploug earned the latter a death sentence in 1843 (soon followed by a pardon), while his Scandinavian Association was placed under an interdict. A follow-up Scandinavian Society was then established by leading intellectuals and public men; it organized a few official meetings in Copenhagen in the mid-1840s, with attendance from students from Norway, Sweden and Denmark, aiming to encourage new cultural and political initiatives in the three countries.

    The Scandinavian Society also arranged lectures, and it was here that the distinguished art historian N.L. Høyen gave a few notable lectures propounding Scandinavian topics in art. A new art association, Selskabet for Nordisk Konst (with almost the same founding members as the Scandinavian Society) saw the light of day in 1847. Key figures were Høyen and Orla Lehmann; its aim was to purchase and collect paintings with motifs celebrating Scandinavian culture in the style of National Romanticism. During the 1850s, the society managed to purchase a large collection of paintings by important contemporary Danish painters; these were meant to have a public afterlife or to be exhibited in a special house for Scandinavian activities. The defeat in the 1864 war, and the subsequent and final decline of the national liberals, prevented the realization of these ideals. The art association disbanded in 1871, donating the purchased paintings to the National Gallery in Copenhagen and the Art Museum in Aarhus, where some of them are still on display.

    Word Count: 280

    Grundtvig, Nikolaj Frederik Severin

    Oehlenschläger, Adam Gottlob

    Barfod, Povl Frederik

    Høyen, Niels Laurits

    Ploug, Carl

    Lehmann, Orla

    Scandinavism

    Museums : Denmark

    Visual arts : Danish

  • Article version:
    1.1.1.2/a
  • Damsgaard, Nina (ed.); 1986. Orla Lehmann – og den nationale kunst (Vejle: Vejle Kunstmuseum) [“O.L. and the national art”]

    Feldbæk, Ole (ed.); 1991. Dansk identitetshistorie (3 vols. Copenhagen: Reitzel)

    Lykke Grand, Karina (ed.); 2013. GOLD – Treasures of the Danish golden age (Aarhus: Systime Academic)


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    All articles in the Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe edited by Joep Leerssen are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://www.spinnet.eu.

    © the author and SPIN. Cite as follows (or as adapted to your stylesheet of choice): Grand, Karina Lykke, 2019. "The Society for Scandinavian Art", Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe, ed. Joep Leerssen (electronic version; Amsterdam: Study Platform on Interlocking Nationalisms, https://ernie.uva.nl/), article version 1.1.1.2/a, last changed 22-03-2019, consulted 26-05-2019.