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Anton Melbye: 'Øresund', 1852. The Hirschsprung Collection

Atmospheric marine by Anton Melbye

In early 2019, the museum received the atmospheric painting Øresund painted by Anton Melbye in 1852. The work was a gift from a German private collector.

Melbye painted sketches of the view across Øresund (the Sound) towards Kullen as far back as 1842. Ten years later he went on to paint this picture, employing a darker colour scheme compared to his earlier studies. An empty ocean stretches out from the stony beach, the dark clouds overhead shot through by the light coming in from the horizon. The empty sea and coast, devoid of human activity, joins the lighting and the sky that takes up most of the picture in imbuing the scene with a melancholy, sombre air.

Anton Melbye: 'Øresund', 1852. The Hirschsprung Collection

About Anton Melbye

Anton Melbye (1818–75) enjoyed great fame during his own lifetime, and his works were in great demand among Danish royalty and aristocrats as well as among collectors abroad. Melbye’s chief source of subject matter was the sea, which he often depicted with a keen sense for dramatic moods.

Melbye’s international career and choice of subject matter associated with movements abroad eventually made him less highly regarded on the Danish art scene as it became increasingly infused, in the mid-nineteenth century, by the conflict between ‘the nationals’ and ‘the Europeans’. Critics delegated Melbye to the ‘European’ category, and in an age when the overall narrative about the Danish nation was being established, the art created by Melbye and the other ‘Europeans’ seemed out of step with the dominant national narrative.

The painting was part of our major special exhibition Towards distant horizons. Anton Melbye 200 years, the first exhibition ever staged about the artist in Denmark. You can read more about the exhibition here...