Eilersen, Eiler Rasmussen (1827-1912)

Eilersen, Eiler Rasmussen (1827-1912)
Eilersen, Eiler Rasmussen (1827-1912)

Eiler Rasmussen Eilersen was one of the most celebrated artists of the 19th century in his homeland of Denmark. In much demand for his gorgeous landscape paintings, Eilersen drew on the Danish tradition of landscape paintings whilst adding his own verve.

The son of the farmer, Eilersen displayed an affinity for painting from a young age. It was thanks to the patronage of a local, wealthy philanthropist, Preben Bille-Brahe (1773-1857) that Eilersen was able to undertake studies in art.

He began his education in Faaborg before moving on to the eminent Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in the capital, Copenhagen. This was a necessary move for a budding artist hoping to become a professional painter. Unfortunately, Eilersen’s studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the First Schleswig War, a skirmish between Denmark and Germany over land ownership. Eilersen was drafted into the Danish army and would serve in the war for two years.

Eilersen was able to resume his studies once the war had ended, and he returned to his craft with energy and determination. He immediately began exhibiting the moment he completed his education, and rapidly earned himself an audience of admirers.

A luminous realism bewitches Eilersen’s landscapes. His various scenes of the Danish landscape, from the island of Funen to the forests of Northern Zealand, are illuminated by rich colour and considerate brushwork.

Eilersen marries this beautiful realism with a hazy sense of romanticism. His skies are wonderous explorations of the diffusion of light. His landscapes often travel throughout vast expanses, the eye led down a winding river or the peaks and troughs of colossal mountain ranges.

Eilersen’s ability to capture the essence of nature makes his works seem immediate, not out of place in our modern world. However, they also hark back to a tradition of Danish artwork which only grew his popularity further. His delicate details and impassioned study of light make his works reminiscent of those of the Danish Golden Age.

Occurring across the first half of the 19th century, the Golden Age sought to celebrate Denmark’s natural beauty and make a statement of national identity through its art. The countryside was presented as burgeoning, naturally prosperous, the jewel in Denmark’s crown. Eilersen seems to resonate with the works of these earlier artists such as Jens Peter Møller (1783-1854) and P. C. Skovgaard (1817-1875). He brought this tradition forward with his own landscapes at a time when many were moving away from the past.

The result of these efforts was to entice a large audience of mainly Danish nobility and royalty. They enjoyed this more traditional stance on landscape painting and would prove prosperous clients for Eilersen. His work was purchased by the royal family and is still a part of Denmark’s Royal Painting Collection. The son of his first patron Bille-Brahe, Christian Bille-Brahe (1819-1899), was also a very important client for Eilersen.

In 1858, Eilersen was awarded a travel grant from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. This allowed him and his wife, Eleanor Vinning, to take trips across Europe. Eilersen would expand on his oeuvre to include scenes of France, Italy, and Germany. These are infused with the same celebratory spirit and fascination with light.

Rasmussen’s works would remain popular even whilst the art world moved towards more modern approaches to landscape painting.

It was his ability to hark back to the traditions of the Danish Golden Age whilst invigorating such a tradition with his own unique skill that appealed greatly.

He is a fascinating example of a Danish artist who understood the importance of his homeland’s artistic legacy and yet forged his own reputation through his own innate skill.


Born in Østerby, Denmark.


Studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Married Eleanor Vinning.


Awarded a travel grant from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.


Travelled to Switzerland, Belgium, and France.


Travelled to London, Britain.


Became a member of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.


Travelled to Vienna, Austria.


Travelled to Italy.


Exhibited at the Exposition Universelle, Paris, France.


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

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