Danish artist Laurits Andersen Ring comes to the US at last

Laurits Andersen Ring (1854–1933), Whitewashing the Old House (1908), oil on canvas, 122 x 96 cm, Statens Museum for Kunst (Den Kongelige Malerisamling), Copenhagen, Denmark. Wikimedia Commons.

If you can get to Greenwich, Connecticut, before 24 May this year, be sure to visit the Bruce Museum there. From today until then it has a new exhibition On the Edge of the World, which shows some of the very best paintings of Laurits Andersen Ring, from the National Gallery of Denmark.

Ring isn’t well known outside the Nordic countries, and I wrote a series here in which I compared his paintings and career with those of his friend Hans Andersen Brendekilde which is summarised here.

Among the paintings exhibited at the Bruce Museum are several which I ranked highly.

ringharvest
Laurits Andersen Ring (1854–1933), Harvest (1885), oil on canvas, 190.2 x 154.2 cm, Statens Museum for Kunst (Den Kongelige Malerisamling), Copenhagen, Denmark. Wikimedia Commons.

In the summer of 1885, Ring got his brother to model for his “monument to the Danish peasant”, Harvest, which he later copied in a smaller pastel. Ole Peter Andersen is seen working on his farm near Fakse, on Sjælland (Zealand), amid seemingly endless wheatfields. He swings his scythe with arms which billow beyond normal length, his right shoulder dropped away almost to nothing.

ringthreeskulls
Laurits Andersen Ring (1854–1933), Three Skulls from Convento dei Cappucini at Palermo (1894), oil on canvas, 55 × 62 cm, Statens Museum for Kunst (Den Kongelige Malerisamling), Copenhagen, Denmark. Wikimedia Commons.

In 1894, Ring visited the island of Sicily, where he painted one of his most unusual works, Three Skulls from Convento dei Cappuccini at Palermo (1894). The Cappuccin monastery in Palermo has long placed their dead monks in catacombs, where their corpses slowly mummify. Ring shows three of the over eight thousand bodies there, in a brush with the symbolism of death. These catacombs were, and remain, a tourist attraction.

ringfrenchwindowswife
Laurits Andersen Ring (1854–1933), At the French Windows. The Artist’s Wife (1897), oil on canvas, 191 x 144 cm, Statens Museum for Kunst (Den Kongelige Malerisamling), Copenhagen, Denmark. Wikimedia Commons.

Ring justly won a bronze medal at the 1900 Exposition Universelle with this magnificent full-length portrait, At the French Windows. The Artist’s Wife (1897).

ringwhitewashing
Laurits Andersen Ring (1854–1933), Whitewashing the Old House (1908), oil on canvas, 122 x 96 cm, Statens Museum for Kunst (Den Kongelige Malerisamling), Copenhagen, Denmark. Wikimedia Commons.

Ring’s figurative works are distinctive and memorable: this is his Whitewashing the Old House from 1908.

ringwaitingfortrain
Laurits Andersen Ring (1854–1933), Waiting for the Train. Level Crossing by Roskilde Highway (1914), oil on canvas, 142.8 x 174.5 cm, Statens Museum for Kunst (Den Kongelige Malerisamling), Copenhagen, Denmark. Wikimedia Commons.

Thirty years after his breakthrough painting The Lineman (1884), which made his reputation, Ring revisited its theme in Waiting for the Train. Level Crossing by Roskilde Highway (1914). This is equally matter-of-fact and almost mundane in its lack of emotion.

Paintings in this exhibition are loaned from the National Gallery of Denmark, which has the largest collection of his works. There are also publications and supporting events including a concert.

Thanks to Scott Smith at the Bruce Museum for keeping me informed of this wonderful exhibition: I hope that it proves a great success.