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Around 1820 the poet Adam Oehlenschläger (1779-1850) wrote his tribute to Denmark, Der er et yndigt land, which only a few decades later became the lyrics of Denmark’s national anthem. The last stanzas in the song pay homage to the beech as a symbol of the nation.

The sunlit Danish beech forest as preffered motif

During the same period, P.C. Skovgaard’s preferred motif was the sunlit Danish beech forest. He was influenced by a programme within the art scene where painting was singled out as the media chosen to communicate a new national selfawareness.

However, the beech idyll in this picture is also about things closer to home, as it were. The children in the scene belong to the same family as the person who commissioned the work, the scene is set at a manor house on Southern Zealand, and the fresh and delicate green of the beech forest reflects the rich promises of childhood, of first beginnings.

The painting's composition

Such an image leaves little place for the children’s grandfather, who has quite literally been pushed into the background. In the foreground the artist minutely presents the flora found in beech forest floors, the national biotope - and the central element of the picture is the young descendent of the manor, wearing a red-white dress as a colouristic accent against all the greens.

Details

  • Title: A Beech Wood in May near Iselingen Manor, Zealand
  • Creator: P.C. Skovgaard
  • Date Created: 1857
  • Værktekst: Omkring 1820 skrev digteren Adam Oehlenschläger (1779-1856) sit nationalromantiske digt Der er et yndigt land, som et par årtier senere kom til at udgøre teksten i Danmarks nationalsang. Sangens sidste par strofer er en hyldest til bøgetræet som nationalsymbol. Den danske bøgeskov som fortrukken motivkreds P.C. Skovgaards foretrukne motivkreds var i samme periode den solbeskinnede danske bøgeskov. Han var under påvirkning af et program inden for kunstlivet, hvor maleriet blev udpeget som formidler af en ny national selvbevidsthed. Idyllen og det nære Bøgeskovsidyllen på billedet drejer sig dog om det nære på flere planer. Børnene på billedet er i familie med bestilleren og befinder sig på et gods på Sydsjælland, og bøgeskovens spædt grønne farve er billedlig resonansbund for barndommens løfterige begyndelsestilstand. Maleriets komposition I denne betydningssammenhæng har deres bedstefar ingen rolle at spille, og han er da også bogstavelig talt skubbet i baggrunden. I den nære forgrund har kunstneren pertentligt udpenslet, hvilke planter man finder i den danske bøgeskovs bund, den nationale biotop - og som centrum i kompositionen står det purunge barnebarn af godsets ejer i sin rødhvide kjole som en koloristisk accent i skovens grønne farvespil.
  • Teknik: Olie på lærred
  • Proveniens: Køb 1951
  • Provenance: Acquired 1951
  • Physical Dimensions: w158.5 x h189.5 cm (Without frame)
  • Featured Place: Iselingen
  • Dansk link: http://www.smk.dk/index.php?id=2330
  • Dansk Titel: Bøgeskov i maj. Motiv fra Iselingen
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Statens Museum for Kunst, http://www.smk.dk/en/copyright/creative-commons/
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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