En Plein Air

In the 1870s, several Scandinavian artists “discovered” Skagen and drawn by the soft light of the north, moved there to paint, especially the so-called “Blue Hour” near twilight when the sky melts into the sea. Their subjects were the local fisherman, fishing in skiffs from the beach, the seaside scenery and themselves.

These northern painters followed the French Impressionist style and there were soon enough of them living and painting en plein air, that is, outdoor painting in real time, that they were referred to as the Skagen Art Colony.

The artists socialized together, often taking meals in the dining room of the local hotel which, years later, in 1946, was moved in its entirety to the Skagen Art Museum where it has been lined with portraits of the artists and their paintings:

We love the French Impressionists and now we can add the “Scandinavian Impressionists” to our “Like” list.

Though we had not heard of these artists before arriving in Skagen, we will look for them from now on when we visit art museums, especially when we visit Paris in August. The more revered of the Skagen art colony are: Danish painters Karl Madsen, Laurits Tuxen, Carl Locher, Viggo Johansen, Thorvald Niss, Holger Drachmann, Anna and Michael Ancher, and Marie and Peder Severin Krøyer; Swedish painters Oscar Björck and Johan Krouthén; and Norwegian painters Christian Krohg and Eilif Peterssen.

In particular, we enjoyed the paintings of the Krøyers and the Anchers. Here are portraits of Marie Krøyer and P. S. Krøyer from the dining room:

During our visit, there was a special exhibition in honor of Marie Krøyer, although most of the paintings were those done by her husband, P. S. Krøyer, with Marie as his model.

In 1890, the railroad was extended from Frederikshavn to Skagen, opening the path to an influx of tourism and development, changing the character of the town and the shore, and ultimately spelling the end of the Skagen Artist Colony.

As a painter myself, I can see what attracted these artists to the area. It seemed that everywhere I turned here, there was a scene crying out to be captured. Since I had only a camera – not a palette – I recorded a few of them to work on at a later date. Here they are, without modification:

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