Johan Thomas Lundbye, View of Hankehøj, with Vejrhøj in Background, Zealand
Johan Thomas Lundbye (1818-1848)

View of Hankehøj, with Vejrhøj in Background, Zealand, 1837

Oil on canvas, H. 0.4 m; W. 0.55 m

Signed lower right: Johan Lunbye, Mrtz.37

Provenance: Bought by the Artists’ Society (Kunstforeningen) of Copenhagen in 1837
Adolphe Valentiner (1803-1868)
Private collection, Denmark
Holger Hirschsprung (1867-1949)
Ernst Müller
Private collection

Literature:

Karl Madsen, Malerier af Johan Thomas Lundbye, Copenhagen, 1931, no. 7.

Karl Madsen, Johan Thomas Lundbye. 1818-1848, Copenhagen, 1949, p. 326, K.M. 27 (ill. p. 39).

Our painting can be considered to be an icon of the Danish Golden Age. Lundbye’s landscapes seem to have provided the typical traditional image of Danish nature to his compatriots. Lundbye is to Denmark almost what Claude Lorraine is to the Roman countryside.

The present painting describes a landscape located in the west of the island of Zealand, the largest island of Denmark. It is especially rich in prehistoric tombs, and has a number of tumuli and dolmens. It shows two of these famous tumuli, Hankehøj, near the village of Vallekilde, and in the background the Vejrhøj tumulus, which with its height of 121 m, is the highest point of Zealand island. When Lundbye painted this work in March 1837, he was only 18 years old, but he had obviously reached a level of artistic maturity. It is at the beginning of his career that Lundbye appeared to be especially patriotic. He shows here his interest in a national identity rooted in history. At Vallekilde, Lundbye often visited the family of his maternal uncle, Honoratius Bonnevie, who was a pastor there. While staying in that village, he often went on walks towards the hill of Vejrhøj. The girl in the foreground is probably his cousin Regine Bonnevie (1), who was 9 at the time. Lundbye has added typically Danish details such as aloe in the left foreground. The presence of a few clusters of clouds is sufficient to make us sense the full extent of the Danish sky. This composition, with its strict lines gives grandeur and majesty to the subject.

  1. Eva Henschen and Stig Miss, exh. cat. Johan Thomas Lundbye 1818-1848 …at male det kjære Danmark, Thorvaldsen’s Museum, Copenhagen, 1994, p. 36.[]