Emotions add meaning to life and shape the framework for our existence. So it is today and so it was in the Golden Age. The exhibition Keeping up Appearances. Portraits and emotions in the Golden Age deals with the human values and psychological circumstances surrounding the sitters in some of the 19th century’s finest portraits. For how do we understand people at a distance of 200 years? And can we feel what they feel?

Emotions took on a leading role in the early 19th century. Being sensitive became important, but at the same time one must have control over one’s wild and bodily passions. Love and friendships were of great value as part of the general education. Reason was good, but without sensitivity human life became empty and meaningless.

The exhibition presents some of the finest portraits of the Danish Golden Age by artists such as Christen Købke, Constantin Hansen, Martinus Rørbye, C.W. Eckersberg, Wilhelm Bendz and C.A. Jensen. The exhibition invites audience to take part in thought experiments on how we read certain emotions into portraits when we know something about the person and maybe in particular when we don’t.

Keeping up Appearances. Portraits and emotions in the Golden Age is based on research by curator and ph.d. Anna Schram Vejlby. The exhibition is accompanied by a publication and a series of events.


af Den Hirschsprungske Samling den 10.10.2017