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Monday, July 31, 2017

Peder Severin Krøyer

The Hirschsprung family, 1881, by Peder Krøyer. From the left Ivar, Aage, Heinrich, Oscar, Robert, Pauline, and, Ellen.
In the United States and many other parts of the world, once the summer heat becomes unbearable, everyone heads for the beach (including artists). I suppose the widespread availability of air-conditioning has lessened this trendy trek to some degree, especially among Americans, who are notorious for taking fewer and shorter "holidays" than general population of European countries. In southeastern Ohio, the favorite vacation wet spot has long been Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I've never been there, but then again, I'm more interested in art museums and observing the sands of time than the gritty literal variety. I don't suppose I've spent more than a combined total of one week on a beach during my entire life. I do love the seashore, however, and as an artist, living by the sea would, I'm sure, be a great source of inspiration.
Beach at Skagen, Peder Severin Krøyer
The Benzon daughters,
1897, Peder Krøyer
That would seem to be the case with the Danish painter, Peder Severin Krøyer (there are various spellings of the sur-name). The man was born to an unfit mother in 1851. Though born in Stavan-ger, Norway, he was raised by his mother's sister and her husband, the Danish zoologist Henrik Nikolai Krøyer in Copenhagen; and for that reason is considered Danish. The boy began his art education at the age of nine under private tutelage then enrolled in Copen-hagen's Technical Institute the following year. In 1870, at the age of 19, Krøyer completed his studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Art. In 1873 the artist was awarded the Academy's gold medal, as well as a scholarship.

Fishermen Hauling Nets, North Beach, Skagen,
1883, Peder Krøyer
Krøyer's official debut as a painter came in 1871 at the Academy's Charlottenborg Palace salon with a portrait of his friend, the painter Frans Schwartz. He exhibited regularly at Charlottenborg throughout his life. In 1874 the Danish tobacco manufacturer, Heinrich Hirschsprung, bought his first painting from Krøyer, establishing a long-standing patronage (top). Hirschsprung's collection of art forms the basis of the Hirschsprung Museum in Copenhagen. Between 1877 and 1881, Krøyer travelled extensively in Europe, meeting artists, studying art, and honing his skills. In Paris Krøyer studied under Léon Bonnat, while coming under the influence of the impressionists, Monet, Sisley, Degas, Renoir, and Manet. He continued to travel throughout his life, constantly drawing inspiration from foreign artists and cultures while the Hirschsprung family provided financial support.

Loggia in Ravello (Italy), 1890, Peder Krøyer

Skagen Painters eating
lunch at Brøndum's Hotel
in 1883, Peder Krøyer
In 1883 Krøyer returned to Denmark. He spent June–October at Skagen, at the time, a remote fishing village on the northern tip of Denmark, where Krøyer painted themes from local life and the artist community there (left). He would continue to be associated with the developing art and literary scene at Skagen for the rest of his life. Other artists at Skagen included Michael and Anna Ancher. Krøyer divided his time between rented houses in Skagen during the summer, and a winter apartment in Copenhagen where he worked on his com-missioned portraits. The figures depicted in the group portrait of Skagen painters are (from the left) Eilif Petersen, Michael Ancher (standing), Wilhelm Peters, Charles Lundh, Degn Brøndum, Johan Krouthén, Oscar Björck and Christian Krohg.

The Krøyers made a beautiful couple. Unfortunately, they were divorced in 1905. They had one daughter.
On one of his trips to Paris in 1888, Krøyer met an old acquaintance, Marie Martha Mathilde Triepcke, whom he had known in Copenhagen. They married in July, 1889 at her parents' home in Germany. Along with her new husband, Marie Krøyer, who was also a painter, likewise became associated with the Skagen community. During their marriage she was often featured in Krøyer's paintings.

Summer Evening at Skagen Beach – The Artist and his Wife, 1899, Peder Krøyer
Krøyer's eyesight began to fail him during the last ten years of his life. Gradually, he became totally blind. Yet, he painted almost to the end, in spite of his health obstacles. He joked as he painted some of his final masterpieces while half-blind, that the eyesight in his one working eye had become better with the loss of the other eye. Krøyer died in 1909 in Skagen at fifty-eight years of age following years of declining health. He had been in and out of hospitals, suffering from bouts of mental illness brought on by syphilis.

Some of Krøyer's best works
(which I didn't have room for anywhere else).

Skagen Beach, 1892, Peder Severin Krøyer.


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