Gerson Digital : Denmark


6.7 Conclusion

Which Danish painters did people hang on their walls? In addition to Wahl and the artists Benstrup and Tuscher, Jens Peder Lund, Carl Gustav Pilo, Peder Als, Johann Hoerner, Erik Pauelsen und Johan Mandelberg require special mention, though they drew on the Dutch visual tradition in the choice of their subjects. The pictorial legacy of Johan Mandelberg, which was auctioned in 1786, consisted of 61 histories, landscapes, still lifes, portraits, animal paintings and genre pictures by the master as well as three pictures by his once highly esteemed student Nicolai Abraham Abildgaard.

However, it cannot be said that a Danish school of painting displaced the love of things foreign, which was at the same time propagated by the few handbooks, such as Johann Dauw’s Der Kunst-Erfahrne Curieuse, Galante, Doch aber zugleich erbauliche Schilder und Mahler (The Art of Experienced, Curious, Galant but at the Same Time Also Edifying Portraitists and Painters) of 1721. To what degree the preferences in taste spread among elite functionaries and from there among artisans and the free professions, is shown by an analysis of the successful bidders at the Thott auction. These can be identified for 485 paintings, meaning about half of the pictures. As a rule both court counsellors and professors as well as lawyers and artisans bought Dutch and Flemish paintings, or ones with related subjects, at times, like the court jeweller Jean François Fistaine (1753-1792) in more than 100 samples. The by now familiar collectors Abildgaard, Count Holstein, Steemann and the court chamber administrator Lorenz Spengler also availed themselves of the Thott collection. In addition to the mentioned painter Abildgaard and artists Juel, Lange and Surmann bought paintings from the Thott legacy. The Thott family auctioned off or kept parts of the collection for itself. That the buyers also included a mason and a captain shows the social reach of the (Dutch) painting that Morell had popularized in court circles.

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