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A Jutland Sheperd on the Moors

Frederik Vermehren1855

SMK - Statens Museum for Kunst

SMK - Statens Museum for Kunst

In June of 1854 Frederik Vermehren met this 82-year-old shepherd on the Jutland moors. He wandered, knitting, among the flowering heather with his sheep, his only company the dog resting at his feet. Over the next few months this fortuitous encounter gave rise to one of the principal rural scenes in Danish art history.

Man's affinity with nature

Working his way through several pencil and painted studies, Vermehren slowly approached the final incarnation of the scene which is about much more than simply the old man on the moors. Taking the mundane scene as its point of departure, the picture before us is a rendition of man’s affinity with nature, of a simple life lived in harmony with nature and the God whose presence is felt in the grand landscape.

A metaphysical dimension

The picture’s feel of having a metaphysical dimension is largely the result of the intensified light, the endless landscape, and – more specifically – the barrows in the background.

Eckersberg's view of art

Within art history Vermehren is often referred to as a conservative guardian of the status quo. This is a consequence of the views he expressed during his many years as a professor, concluded with his retirement 1901: He unfailingly insisted on a view of art that originated with C. W. Eckersberg (1783-1853) in the beginning of the century. Thus, younger artists regarded him as a relic from days gone by. Back in the 1850s, however, Vermehren belonged to the progressive wing within Danish art and was one of the most active figures in the first rebellion against the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’ resistance to change.

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Details

  • Title: A Jutland Sheperd on the Moors
  • Creator: Frederik Vermehren
  • Date Created: 1855
  • Værktekst: I juni 1854 mødte Frederik Vermehren den 82 år gamle fårehyrde på den jyske hede. Han gik i den blomstrende lyng med sine får og strikkede, kun ledsaget af hunden, der hviler ved hans fødder. Det tilfældige møde blev de næste to måneder omsat til et af det danske folkelivsmaleris hovedværker. Menneskets samhørighed med naturen Gennem adskillige tegnede og malede skitser arbejdede Vermehren sig langsomt frem mod det endelige motiv, der handler om meget mere end blot den gamle mand på heden. Fra det virkelighedsnære afsæt er det blevet til en skildring af menneskets samhørighed med naturen, af det simple liv levet i pagt med naturen og den Gud, som fornemmes i det storladne landskab. Metafysisk dimension Oplevelsen af en metafysisk dimension er især en konsekvens af lysets intensivering, af landskabets uendelighed og mere konkret symboliseret ved gravhøjene i baggrunden. Kunstsyn fra Eckersberg I kunsthistorien omtales Vermehren ofte som en konservativ fastholder. En følge af hans mange år som professor, hvor han frem til sin afgang i 1901 insisterede på et kunstsyn, der stammede fra gamle C. W. Eckersberg (1783-1853). De unge kunstnere opfattede ham derfor som et levn fra den gamle verden. Men i 1850’erne tilhørte Vermehren den progressive fløj i dansk kunst og var en af de mest aktive i det første væsentlige oprør mod Kunstakademiets manglende vilje til forandring.
  • Teknik: Olie på lærred
  • Proveniens: Køb 1895
  • Provenance: Acquired 1895
  • Physical Dimensions: w80 x h59.5 cm (Without frame)
  • Featured Place: Jylland
  • Dansk link: http://www.smk.dk/index.php?id=1194
  • Dansk Titel: En jysk fårehyrde på heden
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Statens Museum for Kunst, http://www.smk.dk/en/copyright/creative-commons/
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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