Jørgen Sonne 
Shepherds in the Roman Campagna, 1835
Oil on canvas, 57 x 71 cm.
Inventory number: 0197NMK
Acquired with funding from the wills of Director Per Vilhelm & Mygge Kolbing-Nielsen with grant from Danish Supreme Court Lawyer C.L. David’s Grant for Family and Friends, 2004


In 1831, Sonne received a stipend of 500 rixdollars to travel to Italy. He ended up staying in Rome for nearly ten years, where he primarily produced genre paintings of Italian peasant life. The Campagna was an inexhaustible source of aesthetic pleasure for artists and poets. For outsiders, peasant life and the landscape were picturesque as portrayed in genre art, but the life of shepherds and peasants was difficult, toilsome and unromantic. The setting evening sun casts a warm, golden light across the landscape in Sonne’s aesthetic depiction of three shepherds with their dogs and flock of sheep. The group is carefully positioned in a harmonious pattern where the stylised figures form a monumental triangle in the foreground.


Jørgen Sonne (1801-1890)
Sonne stands out among his generation’s Danish painters by not having been studied under C.W. Eckersberg. Instead, he sought his artistic impulses other places, including Munich, where he was trained as a battle painter. He depicted battle scenes from the war in 1864, where the museum’s founder Johannes Hage was at the frontline. Sonne’s figure compositions follow a stylised and monumental aesthetic, but his landscape studies are more free and sketch-like. Between 1831-40, Sonne lived in Rome, where he was primarily interested in atmospheric depictions of peasant life in genre painting. In 1846-50, Sonne carried out the friezes at Thorvaldsen’s museum with the characteristically stylised figure groups in cement plaster.

Translator: Jennifer Russell

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