A Sea Landscape by Anton Melbye - 1854 Statens Museum for Kunst A Sea Landscape by Anton Melbye - 1854 Statens Museum for Kunst

A Sea Landscape

oil on canvas •
  • Anton Melbye - 13 February 1818 - 10 January 1875 Anton Melbye 1854

Marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Anton Melbye, The Hirschsprung Collection joins the Altonaer Museum in Hamburg to present a major exhibition about the artist. Melbye enjoyed widespread fame during his own lifetime, and his works were in great demand among Danish royalty and aristocrats as well as among illustrious clients abroad, from Hamburg to Paris and Istanbul. Melbye found his main subject matter on and by the sea, often depicting his chosen motifs with a keen sense for drama and mood.

Today Melbye is best known as a painter of marines, but his oeuvre includes a range of landscapes. The environs of Paris were a particular favorite of his, but he also explored the dramatic landscapes of Turkey in drawings and oil sketches. The artist’s international career and his choice of themes that tied in with international movements gradually made him less popular within a Danish art political scene that was, by the mid-nineteenth century, increasingly pervaded by a contrast between the nationals and the Europeans. Art critics categorized Melbye as one of the Europeans. In an era when the grand narrative about Denmark as a nation and what it meant to be Danish was being established, the kind of art created by Melbye and other Europeans was out of sync with the dominant national narrative.

The exhibition about Anton Melbye presents an artist that has almost been forgotten. By presenting the first exhibition ever staged about Melbye in Denmark, The Hirschsprung Collection calls attention to an overlooked, but important story where the sea forms the backdrop of international connections and alliances, outlooks, emotions, and dramatic political events.