Current Press Release

New special exhibition from May 24, 2019:
From Philipsen to Salto - the Collection of
Danish Early Modern Art revisited

J.F. Willumsen, "The Mountain on the Other Side of the Lake is Colored Red by the Sun’s Rays," 1901J.F. Willumsen, "The Mountain on the Other Side of the Lake is Colored Red by the Sun’s Rays," 1901

“Like most young boys, I began to collect stamps at an early age — as well as insects, butterflies, etc. It was very amusing, but I never became a passionate collector in any of these fields.” (C. L. David, 1953)

The museum’s founder did, in contrast, become a very multifaceted art collector. When Christian Ludvig David died in 1960, he left behind not only a rich collection of early fine and decorative art from Europe and parts of the world of Islam, but also a large collection of Danish paintings, sculptures, and ceramics by artists of his own day. It is a selection from this “modern” part of the collection that is reexhibited here — several of the works for the first time in 60 years.

David made his first purchases of Danish art from the preceding generations as a young lawyer in the 1910s. Among the earliest works that appear in the account books are paintings by J. F. Willumsen, the brothers Joakim and Niels Skovgaard, and the brothers Vilhelm and Svend Hammershøi. Then David slowly began to build up a collection of contemporary art, with paintings and decorative art by a fairly wide range of his period’s and the previous generation’s artists, including Theodor Philipsen, Thorvald Bindesbøll, P. S. Krøyer, L. A. Ring, Poul S. Christiansen, Julius Paulsen, Niels Hansen Jacobsen, Albert Gottschalk, Edvard Weie, and the “Funen artists” Peter Hansen and Johannes Larsen.

Artists that are especially finely represented in this exhibition are Theodor Philipsen, J. F. Willumsen, and Vilhelm Hammershøi. Rarely are so many aspects of Hammershøi’s work displayed, with examples of his portraits and landscapes as well as interiors. With regard to Willumsen, it is clear that it was the early, often symbolic, and less expressionistic segments of the artist’s work that engrossed the collector.

Although David’s interest was concentrated on the established segments of the art scene, there was also room at times for younger, more modern practitioners, especially in the fields of ceramics and sculpture. Examples are Axel Salto, Svend Rathsack, and the French-Danish artist Jean Gauguin. Sculptures, especially smaller ones, are found in abundance in the collection, probably due to the early influence of Agnes Lunn, David’s sculptor godmother. From an early age, David was introduced to her work with sculptures and paintings, and as he himself put it, it was she “who supported my interest in art, just as she supported me.”

It would not be incorrect to say that David’s taste was a bit conservative. One should also add, however, that he had an eye for what was to become significant far into the future. Many of the works are classics and only a few of the artists are no longer well known or popular. This is one reason why several of Vilhelm Hammershøi’s paintings will soon be lent to museums in Japan, and will consequently only be part of the exhibition in the David Collection until the end of the year. The rest of the exhibition will be open till the autumn of 2020.

There is free admission to the exhibition, which opens on May 24, 2019.

An exhibition poster will be sold in the museum shop for DKK 40 and a number of new post cards with Danish motifs have been printed to mark the opening of the exhibition and can be bought for DKK 5.

A small selection of images can be seen below and more images can be downloaded here.

For further information, contact curator Peter Wandel at,
tel. +45 33 73 49 49.

The David Collection
Kronprinsessegade 30-32
DK-1306 Copenhagen K

Theodor Philipsen, "Stampede Weather," 1909Theodor Philipsen, "Stampede Weather," 1909

L.A. Ring, "Fenced-in Pastures by a Farm with a Stork’s Nest on the Roof, Skærbæk," 1903L.A. Ring, "Fenced-in Pastures by a Farm with a Stork’s Nest on the Roof, Skærbæk," 1903

Peter Hansen, "Manure Gatherers," 1904Peter Hansen, "Manure Gatherers," 1904

Jean Gauguin, "Man Dancing," 1918Jean Gauguin, "Man Dancing," 1918

J.F. Willumsen, "The Potter Vase," 1900J.F. Willumsen, "The Potter Vase," 1900

Axel Salto, "Spherical Vase," c. 1957Axel Salto, "Spherical Vase," c. 1957