Boesen, Johannes (1847-1916)

Boesen, Johannes (1847-1916)

Johannes Boesen was a successful artist whose effusive, atmospheric works of the Danish landscape saw him carrying on the traditions of Danish art as well as embracing newer influences during the second half of the 19th century.

Boesen’s arts education began at the drawing school of Emmerik Høegh-Guldberg (1807-1881) in Aarhus. He would then move to the eminent Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. It was here that he found great artistic inspiration from his teacher, P. C. Skovgaard (1817-1875).

Skovgaard was an extremely prominent figure of the Danish Golden Age of painting, which occurred over the first half of the 19th century and was still influencing Danish art in Boesen’s time. The National Romantic movement stemmed from it, admiring the atmospheric, romantic works which celebrated the Danish landscape. Art critics such as Niels Laurits Høyen (1798-1870) encouraged artists to pursue this worthy endeavour, depicting the organic, ephemeral beauty of the homeland. With teachers such as Skovgaard embedded in the Academy and an interested audience, artists found pursuing this artistic focus and cause worthwhile.

Boesen’s works are a fantastic example of the influence of these movements. His richly coloured, crisply realistic works are evocative of Skovgaard and others such as Vilhelm Kyhn (1819-1903) and Godfred Christensen (1845-1928).

Boesen was particularly keen on capturing lush woodlands and crystalline lakes in the heady heights of spring and summer. Luminous sunlight shimmers down onto leaves and conjures them alight in vibrant, zesty greens. A woodland becomes a fire of verdancy, reflecting in a rippling stream. Hills and mountains are far-off giants, swamped in a haze of crisp sunlight, whilst a lake is deep azure, refreshingly crisp. Trees are a prominent feature in Boesen’s work, and the exquisite realism he affords to every leaf, every notch on every branch, is a true celebration of Denmark’s natural beauty.

Like many other artists, Boesen’s works become looser in brushstroke as his career progresses. This charts the growing influence of impressionism over landscape painting during the late 19th century and into the 20th century. With its view towards capturing nature in the moment, it left behind the refined detail of naturalism. It is an unsurprising development in the artist’s oeuvre, which still retains his passion for depicting the vitality of the natural world.

Boesen would exhibit incredibly successfully during his life, oftentimes at the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition in Copenhagen, but also further afield, such as at the Chicago World Exhibition in 1893. He would win numerous awards and scholarships over the course of his career, including the esteemed Neuhausen Prize on two occasions. His scholarships allowed him to travel, and Boesen would journey to Germany, France, Italy, and Austria to gain artistic inspiration.

Nonetheless, on the whole he remained loyal to his homeland in the output of works he produced. Denmark is a vibrant, gloriously celebrated country under his brush. Boesen would continue to cultivate the legacy of Danish art, taking on his own pupils, such as Valdemar Schønheyder Møller (1864-1905) and Agnes Budtz (1853-1930).



Born in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.


First exhibited at the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition.


Awarded the Neuhausen Prize.


Awarded the Sødring Prize.


Awarded the Neuhausen Prize.


Travelled to Bornholm, Denmark.


Travelled to Italy, Germany, France, and Tyrol, Austria.


Married Kunigunde Mathea Thalia Zoéga.


Awarded scholarship by the Ministry of Culture. Travelled to Germany, Holland, Belgium, and Switzerland.


Exhibited at the Chicago World Exhibition.


Died in Hellerup, Denmark. Buried in Assistens Cemetery, Copenhagen, Denmark.

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