The Romantic North Zealand
The interest for nature and the interest for the simple life outside the towns was nurtured by the romantic spirit of the time and the North Zealandic landscape seemed to accommodate such needs. The town dwellers went into nature to observe and experience it. The curiosity of the Enlightenment had paved the way for mapping and communication, which was combined with the more personal experience.
|In the early part of the 18th century North Zealand has already played a central part as a resort for romantic aesthetes and patrons of art and literature.
In the 19th century Hellebæk on the Northern Zealandic coast and Gurre in the country became cult places for the Danish Romanticism.
H.C. Andersen was a central character in Romanticism on both sides of the Sound.
City Dwellers in the Country
The North Coast 1820
View of Elsinore
The Dance Hill at Sorgenfri
The historian Christian Molbech travelled on foot in North Zealand in the year 1810. It took him to the historic Gurre. Molbech was among the first to discover Gurre and he contributed to making it a romantic cult place:
… "Skovegnen ved Gurre. Denne har et mere vildt og ensomt Præg end Egnene om Esrom Sø. Gennem Krat og over Lyngheder førtes jeg ind i en tæt, mørk Skov, hvor Vejen netop var så bred, at den gav Rum for én Vogn. Denne Vei går forbi Marianelyst, et Landsted, der ligger såre ensomt midt i Skoven, til en Skovridergaard, Valdemarslund, der har en meget skøn Beliggenhed, idet Husets ene Side vender mod Skoven, og den anden mod Gurre Sø.
Her er den romantisk dejlige Egn, som Valdemar Atterdag elskede så højt, at han kendte Intet, der så meget som denne fængslede ham til Jorden; og Pontoppidan gør med Rette den Anmærkning, at hans Sind var mere jordisk end himmelsk i hans Velmagts Dage. Her nød han sin Yndlingslyst, Jagten, i de Skove, der ganske omringer den skjulte, hemmelige Sø; og her glemte han hos sin Tovelille Kongelivets Glimmer og Byrder.
På en Høj ved Søens Bredder, hvorfra man har en skiøn Udsigt over den hele Sø og en Del af Skoven, stod Gurre Slot, og Voldstedet er endnu kiendeligt. I Nærheden deraf ligger Landsbyen Gurre, og en Lystgaard, der ligger imellem denne og Valdemarslund, har faaet Navnet Gurrehuus. Det fornøjede mig at høre disse Navne, fordi jeg i dem fandt en uventet Agtelse for den svundne Tids Minde, der er så sielden, at man ofte endog gør sig Umage for at udslette de historiske Erindringer ved Stederne, i det man afskaffer de gamle Navne, der gennem Århundreder udmærkede dem."
Romanticism and History
An important side of Romanticism was the rediscovery and the worshipping of the historic past. There was ample opportunity for that in relation to Gurre. The Old Norse time and the middle Ages was revived among other things with N.F.S.Grundtvig´s devotion to Nordic mythology and folk songs, the national dramas of Oehlenschläger and B.S.Ingeman´s historic novels.
As early as the 18th century Gurre Castle and King Valdemar Atterdag(1320-1375) were artistic sources of inspiration. B.S. Ingemann was early with his ”På Sjølunds Fagre Sletter” (published in Julegave 1816), originally in eight stanzas, but most often reproduced in a four stanzas version.
|Large||Friedrich Kuhlau (1786-1832)
|Large||Friedrich Kuhlau (1786-1832)
In the years 1819-23 the writer J.M. Thiele published his Danske Folkesagn (Danish Legends), which became a source of inspiration for the romantic poets. In it was also the legend of King Valdemar and Gurre Castle, which became a common source for the story of the wild ride of King Valdemar Atterdag.
The earliest known version of the legends was written by Christiern Nielsen Brun in 1580. It was probably an urban legend, Gurre was probably a locality in South Zealand, but Gurre Castle Ruin fuelled a romantic narrative. Ingemann stuck to the original Gurre-legend, but in a number of subsequent versions, H.C. Andersens Gurre-song (romance) from 1842, for example, the story of the king´s mistress, Tovelil, was inserted.
This inspiration came from the folk song about King Valdemar and Tove, which was reproduced in Ide Gjøe´s manuscript around 1630. Posterity showed that it was Valdemar den Store, who lived and reigned in the 12th century. The song is a so-called frille (mistress)-song, which is about forbidden love, in this case between the king and his mistress Tove and the theme definitely gave the story a new dimension.
The Gurre of H.C. Andersen
The narrative was taken up again in Christian Winther´s long epos Hjortens Flugt (Flight of the Deer) from 1855 and by the other romantic poets Carsten Hauch and Henrik Hertz. Several of the poets from the Modern Breakthrough also used the narrative. However in J.P. Jacobsen´s Gurresange from 1867-69 it seemed the the romance was over and replaced by pure lust and eroticism.
It was these stanzas, which in German translation inspired Arnold Schönberg to his late romanti music work, Gurrelieder. Finally Holger Drachmann´s drama Gurre from 1898 is worth a mention, - dedicated to a contemporary Tove(”Midsommernatten 1887 – og for bestandig”) Here the eroticism had its roots in reality.
H.C. Andersen in Hellebæk
Another romantic centre in North Zealand was the area around Hellebæk, which appeared in the early Romanticism of the 18th century. H.C. Andersen, who stayed for a year in the grammar school in Elsinore, became acquainted with the view point Odinshøj in 1846 in Hellebæk-Ålsgårde. It obviously made a deep impression on him:
"...En Søndag skulde vi kjøre ud til et smukt Sted ved Sundet: Odinshøj, paa Vejen blev der Uenighed, og da vi kom til den lille Krat Skov der skjulte udsigten, stod M. af Vognen, men da han var vred ville han intet see, lagde sig derfor ved Vognen i Græsset for at sove, Fruen vilde derimod slet ikke stige ned, jeg og Børnene var altsaa de eneste der gik de Par Skridt bag Hækkene, hvor vi saae en af de første Udsigter, der da havde grebet mig. Det var en Klint vi stod paa, nedenfor laae Fisker¬hytter med udspændte Garn, Skibe seilede gennem Sundet, hvor Bølgerne brødes med en Støi, som naar der kjøres med Vogne, læssede med Jernstænger. Ligefor laae Sverrig med Kullen, hvor den blaalige Luft hvirvlede opi den klare Luft. - Intet Partie i Naturen har siden grebet mig stærkere end dette, men det var ogsaa en deilig Dag og Solen skinnede mig ogsaa i mit Hjerte"
Life Book, written in 1832(published 1926)
The North Coast 1820
During the stay in the grammar school in Elsinore, H.C. Andersen was instructed, apart from diary notes and correspondence, to stick to his school work. Andersen did comply with this and some of his earliest poems are form this period. The troubles he encountered under the reign of headmaster Meisling may be indirectly felt in the poem "Det døende Barn" (The Dying Child), which was published in 1827. It was later translated and also became known in broadside versions.
H.C. Andersen himself pointed out The Dying Child and a poem from 1826, which were written on a walking tour to Copenhagen in July and published in Kjøbenhavns flyvende Post August 17th 1827. This early poem was a manifesto for large parts of his later work and revealed his characteristic self-staging. In the concrete descriptions in the poem you can find parallels to descriptions of the Elsinore area and perhaps the slope in the poem is inspired by Odinshøj?
The Spirit in Nature
The notion of nature endowed with spirit was pivotal point of Romanticism. This is also true of the early universal Romanticism, pantheism, or as it was called in the 1840´s: The spirit in nature. The point was to get art, nature and science to form a synthesis in a time, where natural science, technology and industrialization gained ground.
H.C. Andersen knew the physicist H.C. Ørsted personally from his student days and he visited his home regularly. Like Ørsted he paid tribute to the triad of the truth (the laws of nature, the good (ethics) and the beautiful (aesthetics). H.C. Andersen showed a great interest for H.C. Ørsted´s romantic unity statement about the spirit in nature and the scientific and technological progress of the time appealed to the progressive poet.
In 1830 Andersen had during a stay on the mansion Hofmansgave looked into a microscope and wrote the short story Vanddraaben in 1847 (The Drop of Water), which he indirectly dedicated to H.C. Ørsted. H.C. Andersen wrote a song to the Scandinavian nature scientists meeting in Roskilde July 9th 1840. Among the participants were Hans Christian Ørsted, who influenced H.C. Andersen heavily in the 1840´s.
The Mature Andersen
H.C. Andersen in Sweden
I Sverrig (In Sweden)
H.C. Andersen had studied Ørsted´s dissertations about the spirit in nature, when he embarked the steamship Øresund in 1849 in order to sail to Helsingborg and undertake a journey in Sweden. Andersen had Ørsted´s thoughts with him and it is expressed in the book I Sverrig, the, according to himself, “most rewritten book”. The book is published May 19th 1851.
I Sverrig is an unusual work, a poetic depiction of the sister country, but also a philosophical tribute to a new era. Chapter 10, Belief and Knowledge (Tro og Viden), with the subtitle Sermon in Nature (Prædiken i Naturen), is a philosophical text, where the feeling of beauty and the striving towards harmony, as it can bee seen in the surrounding nature, is central:
"Naar Barnet river Blomster af Marken og bringer os den hele Haandfuld, hvor een sidder op, een ned, kastede mellem hverandre, da er det i hver enkelt vi see Skjønheden, denne Harmoni i Farver og i former, som gjør vort Øie saa vel. Instinktmæssigt ordne vi, og hver enkelt Blomst smelter sammen i en Skjønheds Heelhed, saa at vi see ikke paa den, men paa den hele Bouquet. Opfattelsen af Skjønheds-Harmonien er et Instinkt i os, den ligger i vort Øie og i vort Øre, disse Broer mellem vor Sjæl og det Skabte om os. I alle vore Sandser er en saadan guddommelig Gjennemstrømning i vort hele Væsen, en Stræben efter det Harmoniske, som det viser sig i alt det Skabte, selv i Luftens Pulseslag, synliggjorte i Klangfigurer…
…Der er Harmoni-Skjønhed fra det mindste Blad og Blomst, til den store, fyldige Bouquet, fra vor Jord selv, til de talløse Kloder i Himmel-Rummet; saavidt som Øiet seer, saa langt Videnskaben naaer, er Alt, - Smaat og Stort, - Skjønhed ved Harmonien."
The California of Poetry (Poesiens Californien)
In the final chapter, the epilogue Poesiens Californien, he described the contrast between the earlier and the poetry to come and he formulated a manifesto for the writing of the future. Andersen had visited mines and factories on his journey and become acquainted with the dynamics of the time and the progress optimism and stated that: ”In science lies the California of poetry”. In addition he said:
”Det er ikke vor Tanke, at Digteren skal versificere de videnskabelige Opdagelser, Læredigtet er og bliver i sin bedste Form dog altid en mekanisk Dukke kun, der ikke har det friske Liv. Videnskabens Sollys skal gjennemtrænge Digteren, med klart Øie skal han opfatte Sandheden og Harmonien i det Smaa og i det uendelige Store, det skal luttre og berige Forstanden og Phantasien, vise ham nye Former, der end mere levendegjør Ordet. Selv de enkelte Opdagelser vilde give en saadan ny Flugt. Hvilken Eventyr-Verden kan ikke oprulle under Mikroskopet, naar vi deri overføre vor Menneskeverden; Electromagnetismen kan blive en Livsenstraad i nye Lystspil og Romaner, og hvo. mangen humoristisk Digtning vil ikke voxe frem, idet vi fra vor støvgranlille Jord med dens smaa, hovmodige Mennesker see ud i det uendelige Verdens-Alt fra Melkevei til Melkevei”.
I eventyret Vanddraaben har H.C. Andersen, som et konkret eksempel herpå, foretaget sammenligningen imellem mikroskopets og menneskenes verden.
Not nearly all the romantic poets of the time agreed with H.C. Andersen in his enthusiasm for science´s spirit in nature and the progress of technology. The poets Carsten Hauch and B.S. Ingemann reacted directly and Ingeman said in friendly, but sharp letter, dated Sorø May 25th 1851:
”…De synes mig altfor påvirket af Empirikerne og Naturalisten Ørsted og hans blot dynamiske ”Aand i Naturen” …-medens han kun ser Aand ig Liv i Dampmaskiner, elektromagnetiske Telegrafer og i det copernicanske System, som han tror er splinternyt og aldrig før seet af nogen Digter-
…Hvad jeg kalder Romantik er mig sjælen i enhver Tids poesi…”
H.C Andersen had an early eye for the poetry of ordinary life. In the later development of Romanticism the poetic realism - the preoccupation with the simple life- played an important part. In a national romantic sense it was the people, i.e. the common man, which entered the picture here. The depictions were often idyllic or had an exotic character.
The actress Johanne Louise Heiberg, who wrote the important memoir Et liv genoplevet i Erindingen, visited Hellebæk in 1847. Here she engaged in nature experiences by visiting Old Ane, who lived alone in a run-down house by the Bøgeholm Lake.
Old Ane´s House
Johanne Louise Heiberg
People and landscape
Romanticism’s devotion to people, past, nature and landscape helped to create the notion of national identity. In the art of painting in early Romanticism ”pure” nature was in focus, but gradually people started to enter the picture, like for instance in Jens Juel´s famous picture with a view of Elsinore afra Marienlyst. The town´s inhabitants had now ventured into nature.
A popular motif was the depictions of the plain everyday life of the fishermen along the Sound coast. As early as the end of the 1830´s Julius Friedlænder painted several motifs with fishermen from Hellebæk-Aalsgaarde. Around 1850 Snekkersten in the south also entered the picture.
In the 1840´s and onward J.T. Lundbye and P.C. Skovgaard painted and drew several forest views from Hellebæk-Aalsgaarde. One of P.C. Skovgaard´s favoruite subjects was the Bondedammen in Hellebæk. He painted at least five oil paintings in 1858 with or without people.
City Dwellers in the Country
Snekkersten Sailing Ship Shipyard
View from the North Coast
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View of Elsinore
The Painters´ Community in Hornbæk
The painter Thomas Lundbye, who died of an accidental shot in 1848, became almost the epitome of the Danish national romantic landscape painter with hsi motifs from West Zealand, but his drawings from his stay in North Zealand also held more sober landscapes, among the the first depictions of conifers.
Gradually regular communities of painters sprung up on the south and north coast, most famously in Hornbæk, where 6 young painters, among them P.S. Krøyer, settle down for the summer in 1873. Holger Drachmann entered this circle from 1877, despite the fact that he had stopped exhibiting his pictures in 1874 and had taken up poetry instead.
P.S. Krøyer´s early paintings from Hornbæk beach are examples of the transition to the realistic genre painting, which marked the subsequent time. With Krøyer´s depictions the artists came close to the everyday life of the people.
Hornbæk became for a time the Mecca of the art of painting, but eventually North Zealand as North Zealand got crowded with tourists, the artists took off to new localities, among them Bornholm and later and well-known - Skagen.
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Fisherman´s Family from the North Coast