Beyond the Light: Identity and Place in Nineteenth-Century Danish Art

January 26–April 16, 2023
Location: The Met Fifth Avenue, Galleries 691–693, The Charles Z. Offin Gallery,  Karen B. Cohen Gallery, and Harriette and Noel Levine Gallery

Beyond the Light: Identity and Place in Nineteenth-Century Danish Art explores the period formerly known as the Danish Golden Age, a name that belies the economic and political hardships the dwindling Danish Kingdom experienced in the nineteenth century. Denmark suffered through the Napoleonic Wars, which included the devastating bombardment of Copenhagen, bankruptcy, and mounting antagonism with Germany. Yet, this sociopolitical and economic tumult also gave rise to a vibrant cultural and philosophical environment for nineteenth-century Danish artists. Opening January 26 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Beyond the Light places the drawings, oil sketches, and paintings created by these artists firmly in this period, one that witnessed the transformation of a once-powerful Danish Kingdom into a small, somewhat marginalized country at the edge of Europe. Danish artists forged a close-knit community during this time, and the artworks they created explore notions of place, identity and belonging, and experiences of travel and their return home.

The exhibition features approximately 100 works from The Met collection, SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark, and several American private and public collections. It highlights such artists as Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, Christen Købke, Constantin Hansen, Martinus Rørbye, and Vilhelm Hammershøi as well as lesser-known figures like Anton Melbye, Johan Thomas Lundbye, Peter Christian Skovgaard, and Heinrich Gustav Ferdinand Holm, among others.  

The exhibition is made possible by Gilbert and Ildiko Butler.

Additional support is provided by The Schiff Foundation.

The exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum, in collaboration with SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark.

Credits and Related Content

Beyond the Light: Identity and Place in Nineteenth-Century Danish Art is organized by guest curator Freyda Spira (former Associate Curator in the Department of Drawings and Prints at The Met and current Robert L. Solley Curator of Prints and Drawings at Yale University Art Gallery), in collaboration with Stephanie Schrader (Curator of Drawings, J. Paul Getty Museum), and Thomas Lederballe (Chief Curator, Senior Researcher, SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark).

A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition. Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press, it will be available for purchase from The Met Store. 

The catalogue is made possible by the New Carlsberg Foundation.

Additional support is provided by the Drue E. Heinz Fund and the Tavolozza Foundation.

Information on related exhibition programming will be available on The Met’s website

The exhibition will be featured on The Met website as well as on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #BeyondTheLight.

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