Bjulf, Søren Christian (1890-1958)

Bjulf, Søren Christian (1890-1958)

Søren Christian Bjulf was a Danish painter of landscapes, street scenes, portraits and interiors. Studying in Düsseldorf and Paris, he’s now predominantly known for his depictions of the fish market at Gammel Strand, Copenhagen.

Between circa 1921 and 1937, Bjulf produced dozens of paintings capturing the busy environs of Gammel Strand. From various angles, he depicts the stalls, vendors and customers - each time varying the content. If we had the benefit of speaking with this interesting character, we’d ask him why. Was it simply a necessity to meet a demand from tourists and locals? Or was it due to his affinity for the characters involved in the trade? If we had to guess, the latter seems more plausible.

In an interview during the later part of his career, English scene painter, Charles Spencelayh, was asked why he painted so many old men. His answer was simple - he enjoyed their depth of character and the endless stories they told during each sitting. Bjulf was probably the same, perhaps he developed friendships with the fishwives who travelled to sell their wares. Getting to know each of them over the span of 16 years. The hustle and bustle of Gammel Strand would’ve been quite a spectacle and there he was - standing at the edge of the market with his easel and paints. Everyone would’ve known him.

Aside from the vendors, he also painted numerous shoppers meandering through the stalls searching for bargains. Sometimes these appear to be from life while the closeups were probably his wife or sister in various outfits. It’s enjoyable to spot the same figures in numerous works - the equivalent of a fish market ‘Where’s Wally’.

Bjulf’s fascination for the subject likely stemmed from his childhood, as his father, Anders Christian Sørensen, was a fishmonger. One can imagine young Søren accompanying his dad to various harbours and becoming absorbed with the trade.

He was also a proficient painter of interiors, portraits and landscapes.

Søren Christian Bjulf died in 1958, the final year of the market at Gammel Strand.

1890

Baptised in Løgstør, Denmark. Parents recorded as Anders Christian Sørensen, a fishmonger, and Ellen Marie Sørensen (nee Knudsen).

Trained as a house painter.

Studied in Düsseldorf and Paris.

1916

Living with his aunt Christine in Søllerød parish, Copenhagen. Working as a decorative house painter.

1921

Listed as married to Karen Bjulf.
Began painting the fish market at Gammel Strand, Copenhagen.

1930

Married second wife, Martine Aucine Bjulf (b.1907).

1931

Birth of son, Jorgen.

1932

Birth of daughter, Britta.

1934

Birth of son, Arne.

1936

Birth of daughter, Eva.

1937

Last known painting of the fish market at Gammel Strand, Copenhagen.
Do let us know if you've discovered a later work.

1958

Died in Roskilde, Denmark.

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