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Købke studied himself very carefully while painting this self-portrait. He did not intend the painting to be a typical portrait of an artist, and the picture has no traces of his tools, working clothes, or studio. Quite the contrary: he is wearing an overcoat, and the background is entirely neutral so that you have no sense that he is in the middle of a working situation.

The self-portrait is not conducive to the Romantic worship of artists and genius so prevalent at the time. Subdued or dark nuances are used throughout the entire picture, lit up only by Købke’s face. Thus, all attention is focused on him.

The self-portrait of a great Danish artist

During his day, Købke was known as a straightforward, good-natured and simple-minded person who did not strive to attract attention to himself. His self-portrait supports this description. Only the insistent gaze suggests that the picture shows one of the greatest Danish artists of all time.

Sense of observation and colour

Købke’s keen sense of observation and sense of colour had no equal among the other Danish artists of the era. Købke painted his self-portrait around the time where he truly found his own voice as an artist. He never did, however, obtain a prominent position within the Danish art scene during his own lifetime. His art did not win true recognition until 30-40 years after his death.

Details

  • Title: Self-Portrait
  • Creator: Christen Købke
  • Date Created: About 1833
  • Værktekst: Købke har iagttaget sig selv meget indgående, mens han malede sit selvportræt. Han har ikke tænkt maleriet som et kunstnerportræt, og der er ikke antydning af hans redskaber, arbejdstøj eller atelier på billedet. Tværtimod er han iført en overfrakke, og baggrunden er helt neutral, så man fornemmer ikke, at han er midt i en arbejdssituation. Selvportrættet bidrager ikke til den romantiske dyrkelse af kunstnerne på denne tid. Hele billedet er holdt i neddæmpede eller mørke toner, og kun Købkes ansigt lyser op. Al opmærksom er dermed rettet mod hans person. Selvfremstillingen af en stor dansk kunstner Købke var i samtiden kendt som et ligefremt, godmodigt og troskyldigt menneske, der ikke gjorde stort væsen af sig selv. Hans selvportræt stemmer godt overens med den karakteristik. Kun det insisterende blik antyder, at maleriet viser en af de største danske kunstnere gennem tiderne. Iagttagelsesevne og koloristisk sans Købkes iagttagelsesevne og koloristiske sans var uden sidestykke blandt periodens danske kunstnere. Købke malede selvportrættet på den tid, hvor han for alvor trådte i karakter som kunstner. Han opnåede dog aldrig en fremtrædende position i det danske kunstliv, mens han levede, og først 30-40 år efter hans død begyndte hans kunst for alvor at vinde anerkendelse.
  • Teknik: Olie på lærred
  • Proveniens: Testamentarisk gave fra Cecilie Krohn 1912
  • Provenance: Acquired 1912
  • Physical Dimensions: w35.5 x h42 cm (Without frame)
  • Dansk link: http://www.smk.dk/index.php?id=1186
  • Dansk Titel: Selvportræt
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Statens Museum for Kunst, http://www.smk.dk/en/copyright/creative-commons/
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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