Hills near Vejby, Zealand
Johan Thomas Lundbye (1818-1848)

Hills near Vejby, Zealand, 1843

Oil on paper laid down on canvas., H. 0.16 m; W. 0.18 m

Signed and dated lower left: 18 TL 43.
Inscribed on the stretcher: Parti ved V(…)y 1843 / J. Th. Lundbye.

Provenance: Private collection.

Hailed during his lifetime as the most important Romantic Danish landscape artist, Lundbye seems to have escaped Eckersberg’s influence. From the age of twelve, he followed the training of Johan Ludwig Lund, who had been close to Caspar David Friedrich and the German Nazarene painters of Rome. He later had animal painter Christian Holm as a teacher. Admitted to the Academy of Copenhagen in 1833, Lundbye became friends with Laessøe and P.C. Skovgaard. During those years, Købke’s style and sense of colour had an immense influence on Lundbye, though the Norwegian landscape painter Johan Christian Dahl arguably left an even deeper mark on him soon after. In 1835, he began displaying his works at Charlottenborg.

It is considered that he reached his artistic maturity around 1838. In 1842, he began to take part in the conferences of art historian N.L. Høyen. He also went to Vartov’s church to listen to the preacher N.F.S. Grundtvig, and he was marked by his nationalistic Romantic ideas for many years, before taking his distance. In 1845 he received a travel scholarship from the Academy and went to Rome; the trip, however, does not seem to have had much influence on his works. While he was attracted to the ideas of the Nazarenes, he never journeyed to Munich, nor did he venture to Dresden, the capital of Friederich\’s Romanticism.

When the Schleswig-Holstein War broke out in 1848, Lundbye volunteered to join the army. Officially he died from a stray bullet, but the possibility of suicide has also been considered.

In the summer of 1843, Lundbye spent two months with his friend Skovgaard in Vejby, in northern Zealand. This sketchy was probably painted on the spot from a hillside, facing towards Holløse, a small village near Tisvilde on the coast. The famous “Tibirke Bakker” hills are visible, ancient sand dunes veiled in fog. Lundbye never did exact reproductions of the landscape, rather depicting idealized images of nature.

The use of perspective in this painting pays no hommage to Eckersberg’s geometrical compositions. From the first plane, fairly dark with elaborate vegetation, the viewer moves to a background with alternating dark and light areas. A landscape of northern Zealand, painted by Lundbye in 1842 (Statens Museum of Kunst, Copenhague ), has a similar composition. Praesto, view of the old road, painted by J.C. Dahl in 1814 (Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo), has been composed according to the same principles and may have influenced Lundbye.

Our painting reveals characteristics typical of Lundbye, with a generous, open countryside streaming with light. Rather than get hung up on excessive detail, Lundbye captures the broad strokes, and often gives a monumental effect to his works. He uses tender and finely nuances colours.