THE HANSENS’ SECRET GARDEN
THE ORDRUPGAARD COLLECTION
COROT, DEGAS, CÉZANNE, SISLEY, MONET,
RENOIR, GAUGUIN, MATISSE…
As is the case with the Musée Jacquemart-André, the Ordrupgaard Collection was assembled by two art lovers, the Danish couple Wilhelm (1868–1936) and Henny (1870–1951) Hansen. A businessman, art connoisseur, an independent and visionary man, Wilhelm Hansen assembled in only two years (between 1916 and 1918) a collection—which was quite unique in Europe—of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works from the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A selection of more than forty works is presented for the first time in Paris, at the Musée Jacquemart-André.
The exhibition includes works that are relatively unknown in France, ranging from Corot to Cézanne and Matisse, the changing landscapes of Monet, Pissarro, and Sisley, and the tender portraits of Renoir, Morisot, and Gonzalès. The works of emblematic artists such as Degas, Manet, and Courbet, are also be exhibited, ending with a finale devoted to the vibrant and sensual art of Gauguin.
THE FOUNDERS: WILHELM AND HENNY HANSEN
Born in Copenhagen on 27 November 1868, Wilhelm Hansen forged a remarkable career in insurance. An independent and visionary man, he developed a passion for the arts, and French art in particular, which he succeeded in popularising in Denmark, thanks in particular to major exhibitions held in Copenhagen that presented works loaned from major French museums.
He met his wife Henny in 1887 during a performance at the Danish Royal Theatre. They got married on 30 October 1891 and adopted their son, Knud Wilhelm, in 1908.
Wilhelm Hansen’s passion for art began when he was a student: his friend Peter Hansen, who became one of the members of the Danish painters’ collective Fynboerne, introduced him to the artistic milieu. Some of these artists became close friends with Wilhelm and Henny, who, throughout their lives, enhanced their collection with paintings by Danish artists and the major works of the French Impressionists.
ORDRUPGAARD, THE VENUE
An imposing and charming mansion located north of Copenhagen, the Hansens’ private residence housed an art gallery that was open to the general public after its inauguration on 14 September 1918. In accordance with their wishes, the mansion of Ordrupgaard was left to the Danish state, which turned it into a museum in 1953. Between 2003 and 2005, a modernist extension designed by Zaha Hadid was added to the building’s structure. Its mineral appearance reflects the surrounding natural environment, providing an exceptional setting for the museum’s marvellous collection.
Review : The Musée Jacquemart-André, the home of collectors from the late 19th century, is a wonderful museum that I discovered only last year for their exhibition “Les impressionnistes en Normandie“. The new exhibition is divided in 8 rooms full of magnificent paintings. Room n°1 includes a number of works by Camille Corot and Claude Monet, providing a fascinating overview of nineteenth-century landscape art. Room n°2 is just as impressive with works by Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley, two of the greatest Impressionist artists. My favorite painting of the exhibition was in Room n°3 – Flowers and Fruits by Henri Matisse. This bold still life is simply stunning. Another highlight was in Room n°7 with the painting Woman Bathing by Paul Cézanne – used for the poster of the exhibition. Although he belonged to the same generation as the Impressionist painters, Paul Cézanne was distinguished by the way he constructed his lively landscapes. Despite its average size, the monumentality of the composition opened the way to the twentieth century approach and already contained the seeds of the cubists’ bolder experiments. The exhibition ends on a room dedicated to the works of Paul Gauguin which makes up one of the most spectacular ensembles in the Ordrupgaard collection. A beautiful exhibition that we strongly recommend!