Constantin Hansen
Portrait of the squire Alfred Hage (1803-1872), c. 1856
Oil on canvas, 34,5 x 34 cm.
Inventory number: 0083NMK
Acquired before 1949


In this painting, Constantin Hansen has portrayed the older Alfred Hage with a certain lofty air about him - contrasting with its rather modest format. The additionally marked contrast between light and shadow lends the composition a solemn feel and amplifies the intensity in Hage’s determined look. As with other portraits from the artist’s late career, this head and shoulders portrait is marked by a stylised expression with a limited range of colours and simplification of form. The face is drawn with only a few contour lines and a simple, delimited form, while the general colour scheme only varies between very bright and dark shades. By the mid-19th century, Constantin Hansen distanced himself ever more from the Eckersberg School and its precise reproduction of reality, writing in his notebook that the task of the artist was not to create faithful reproductions of nature, but instead give a characteristic to the essential and omit the trivial. In his portrayal of the middle-aged Alfred Hage, Constantin Hansen highlights the authority that the man acquired through a long life.


Constantin Hansen (1804-1880)
Constantin Hansen received his initial training from his father, Hans Hansen, who was a portrait painter. Later, he studied under C.W. Eckersberg and his paintings became more classical in composition with tight, symmetrical structuring. Constantin Hansen was an excellent colourist and in many of his sketches, he anticipated the colour handling and painterly technique of the Impressionists. In 1860-64, he carried out the huge painting The Danish Constitutional Assembly, which now hangs at Frederiksborg Museum. The painting was commissioned by Johannes Hage’s father, Alfred Hage, and hung in the dining room at the family’s home in Harsdorff’s Palace on Kongens Nytorv (no. 3, the white palace to the right of Charlottenborg).

Translator: The translation agency Diction – J. Niclas B. Jensen

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