The Copenhagen Art Academy circa 1800: Reinventing Tradition


ACLS Fellowship Program


Art History


Works produced by artists studying in Copenhagen between 1770 and 1820 anticipated later developments in continental art often attributed to artists elsewhere—painting modern life, national romanticism, abstraction—and generated simultaneously movements usually considered sequential and oppositional: neoclassicism, romanticism, and realism. This project investigates Copenhagen’s art academy during this period to show how it embodied relationships among art, economics, philosophy, politics, religion, and science that were novel at the time and contrasted with the hierarchical, tradition-bound policies of state-sponsored art academies elsewhere. A hub of Enlightenment culture in the eighteenth century due to a progressive German bureaucracy and civic-minded landowners, Copenhagen fostered the interdisciplinary exchange that made it a harbinger of modernism.