Fields of waving grain, shimmering sunshine, a majestic mountaineer and a grey palette that only Vilhelm Hammershøi could wield with such mastery. Enjoy a selection of key masterpieces of Danish art from around the year 1900. A period that encompassed contemplative, symbolic ‘images of the soul’ as well as a vibrant enthusiasm for nature, light and vitality.

With this exhibition, we show a hand-picked selection of some of the most important works in the SMK collection.

Around 1900, Danish artists looked to the Vitalist movement for inspiration. They celebrated light, landscape and the idea of Man in Nature.

SMK shows major works from the museum’s collection created by artists such as Theodor Philipsen, Peter Hansen and one of the leading lights of Danish art, the arch-Vitalist J.F. Willumsen. Highlights includes the seminal A Mountaineer, in which Willumsen pays homage to humanity’s sheer lifeforce and ability to rise up and rule over nature.

In the exhibition, the bold, bright colours of the Vitalists meet Vilhelm Hammershøi’s grey-hued ‘images of the soul’. Hammershøi is particularly well known for depicting interiors from his own home, monumental buildings in Copenhagen and intimate portraits of family and friends. With his characteristic greyscale palette, Hammershøi creates a special world that combines the homely with the uncanny.

The exhibition also features the Symbolist artist Ejnar Nielsen’s poignant depictions of man’s fragility. The Symbolists turned inward for inspiration, away from direct representations of reality. A clear example is provided by the outlook evident in Ejnar Nielsen’s art: with God out of the equation, man is left to his own devices as he faces whatever random fate life has in store.

Towards the end of the exhibition, you will find important works by one of the most important Danish artists of all, L.A. Ring. His choice of subject matter reflects the major changes that faced twentieth-century man on the threshold of modern life. Keenly attuned to both tradition and modern sensibilities, L.A. Ring’s reach embraces the old and new worlds alike.

The exhibition presents works usually featured in SMK’s permanent display of Danish and Nordic Art 1750–1900, supplemented by selected, rarely-seen works taken out of storage for this event.