Brasen, Hans Ole (1849-1930)

Brasen, Hans Ole (1849-1930)
Brasen, Hans Ole (1849-1930)

Glorious scenes of the Danish countryside, tinted with whimsy and nostalgia, grace the oeuvre of Danish artist Hans Ole Brasen. Brasen engaged both with the tradition of painting in his homeland, as well as taking influence from further afield. The works he created were very popular in his time and serve as strong examples of the development of Danish art across the late 19th century into the 20th century.

Brasen’s artistic fascination began as a child. His mother would often paint flower pictures, and these inspired him to take up a brush of his own. He was at first apprenticed under master painter Ernst Schmiegelow (1826-1888) before advancing to the prestigious Danish Royal Academy of Fine Art. His education progressed even further from here when he travelled to Paris to study for a brief period under realist and educator Léon Bonnat (1833-1922).

French influence was overwhelming a number of Brasen’s peers, many of whom also studied under Bonnat. However, the Danish tradition of painting was much more influential on Brasen. Since the beginning of the 19th century, Denmark had begun an effort to define its unique, artistic identity and elevate a sense of nationality within said art. For roughly the first half of the century, the Danish Golden Age of painting was encouraging gorgeously sentimental depictions of the Danish landscape and life, grounded in a detailed, sophisticated naturalism. Even when this style began to wane in dominance, and the influences from abroad such as impressionism were looming large, the legacy of this style remained in many painters. Brasen was one such painter.

His works often depict the minutiae of country life, everyday scenes, which offer peace to the viewer through their simplicity and presentation. The maid who herds geese does so with grace and gentility. Cows graze demurely as the farmer and his wife set about at seemingly leisurely pace in their duties. Even his scenes which only feature animals, cattle set about to graze, or sheep lazily slumped in grass, offer a beauty and narrative. He lends such strong atmosphere in the landscapes they dwell within, the fine naturalism lending spirit and verve to each tree, each ballooning cloud.

Bonnat’s influence can be seen in the lighter colours Brasen tends to use, in the glorious crystalline quality of his skies and the diffusion of hazy, golden sunsets across the land. Yet the celebration of the Danish landscape is clearly woven along the same lines as his predecessors from the Golden Age. There are similarities in the pattern and the cut to the leaders of the Danish Golden Age such as Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1783-1853).

Whilst Brasen did predominantly capture the beauties of his homeland, he also had a passion for depicting scenes abroad. Indeed, his great talent would earn him recognition and awards, such as the Neuhausen prize and, significantly, travel scholarships. Upon the wings of these successes, he would travel abroad, to Austria and Italy, and find within them the same inspiration conjured from his homeland.

Brasen depicts the countryside and rustic life of these two countries in much the same manner as his Danish representations. With a romantic hue, strong attention to colour and detail lend a beautiful naturalism to scenes of children sewing, or washerwomen gathered on the shores of Lake Garda. It seems clear why Brasen’s works did so well, and why he exhibited so frequently. He participated in many shows in Denmark, as well as abroad, including the Exposition Universelle in Paris.

Brasen’s works depict the simplicities of the everyday yet offer much abundance in narrative and artistic skill. He makes the simple seem elaborate, translates the glorious beauty of nature through paint and a discerning eye. Brasen would carry forward the legacy of the Danish Golden Age and add to it a modern verve picked up during his time under Bonnat and cultivated with his sophisticated and intelligent eye.


Born in Hillerød, Denmark.


Studied at the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts.


First exhibited at the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition.


Awarded the Neuhausen Prize.


Travelled to Italy with Eiler Rasmussen Eilersen. Married Anna Caroline Frederikke Growth.


Received a travel grant from the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Studied in Paris under Leon Bonnat.


Travelled to Austria.


Awarded the Ancker Scholarship.


Travelled to Italy.


Exhibited at the Exposition Universelle, Paris, France.


Awarded the Eckersberg Medal.


Exhibited at the Exposition Universelle, Paris, France. Awarded at Honourable Mention.


Served on the Charlottenborg exhibition committee.


Served on the Charlottenborg exhibition committee.


Died in Copenhagen, Denmark. Buried in Western Cemetery, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Stay In Touch
Subscribe to our Wednesday newsletter for the latest finds and 10% off your order.