The Nordic contributions to romanticism in the visual arts
The Nordic achievements in the visual arts in the age of romanticism were first and foremost accomplished by Danish artists. The great initiator was C. W. Eckersberg, who observed reality with great scrutiny and demanded of himself a faithful rendering of all the details. However, at the same time, he stuck to the classical principles of composition and omitted all accidental and ugly aspects of the motif that did not fit into his concept of an ideal picture. The principles he laid down in his art in around 1815 formed the basis of Danish (and Norwegian) painting until 1850. He introduced open-air painting as part of the tuition at the Royal Academy of Copenhagen and was, in this respect, a pioneer in a European context. During the 1820s and 30s almost all the young Danish painters were pupils of Eckersberg, and he also influenced the Norwegian J. C. Dahl. The subjects of the Danish paintings are very down-to-earth they are first and foremost taken from everyday life. In the first decades of nineteenth century, Copenhagen had the status as the most important art centre in Northern Europe, and the art academy attracted many German artists. However, around 1840, a growing nationalism separated the Danish and German artists, and many Danish landscape painters devoted their art to the praise of Denmark. The nationalist artists, however, still stuck to the reality they had actually seen.
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