P. C. Skovgaard
Summer afternoon by a lake, 1859
Oil on canvas, 192 x 270 cm.
Inventory number: 0147NMK
Bequest from Vilhelmine and Alfred Hage, 1891. Bestowed to the museum in 1908


With this depiction of Bondedammen pond by the town of Hellebæk, Denmark, P.C. Skovgaard has painted a scene from Danish nature that appears as something out of a summer’s day in Arcady. The sun’s golden rays illuminate a lush forest landscape just after a rain shower has passed. A peasant girl and boy watch their cows quench their thirst by the pond, while grey rain clouds can be observed on the horizon. During his stay in Italy, Skovgaard became deeply inspired by Claude Lorrain and his Arcadian landscape paintings. This fascination subsequently manifested itself in the Dane’s landscape paintings of his home country’s nature on the island of Zealand. In this painting of Bondedammen, the still waters of the pond, golden afternoon sun and the peasant children bring to mind Lorrain’s paradisiacal landscapes where herdsmen live in harmony with an idealised version of nature. In using these elements, Skovgaard ‘rediscovered’ distant Arcady in his figurative backyard, the nature of Denmark.


Peter Christian Skovgaard (1817-1875)
In Denmark, Skovgaard, along with his artist colleague, J. Th. Lundbye, became one of the most significant National Romantic landscape painters of the Golden Age. For a number of years, he was a professor at the Academy of Art in Copenhagen. Among Skovgaard’s sources of inspiration were Flemish Baroque landscape painters such as Jacob Ruysdael and the French artist Claude Lorrain’s timeless Arcadian landscapes. He mastered both the smaller formats with realistic, impasto depictions of nature and bigger, monumental and detailed compositions. The artist’s favoured subject matter was the Danish beech forest, which he painted throughout his life in countless variations from regions all across the country. Skovgaard’s artistic legacy was primarily carried on through his sons, Joakim and Niels.

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

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