Danish artist Just Holm garnered a successful career as a portrait painter, as well as completing a number of delightful and romantically infused genre scenes.
Holm grew up in Randers, although he soon left his studies there to receive an artist education at the eminent Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts. He had, apparently, always shown an aptitude for the art of portrait painting. Indeed, he seems to have done well at the Academy, being awarded a silver medal for his work in 1838.
Following his studies, Holm made travels across Europe to enliven his experiences and his art. He seems to have stopped to work for a time in Munich, Germany. Here, in 1842, an old friend from Denmark, Rudolph Bay (1791-1856), noticed him as being “at peace” within the city. Bay also made note of Holm working as a portrait painter. Indeed, an example of a young man stood in front of the far-off cityscape of Munich survives to this day.
Upon returning to Denmark, Holm continued to cultivate a successful career as a portrait painter. He also often exhibited his works at the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition.
The growing middle-class bourgeoisie would have offered an appealing client base from which Holm gathered commissions and patronage. They were keen to have their portraits painted as signs of their growing status. Indeed, Danish artistic production on the whole was on a rise during Holm’s time as the country itself began to sharply define its own nationalistic identity. Portraits were a sign of growing wealth and the growing autonomy of Denmark’s people.
Holm lends to his portraits a delicate hand and fine brushwork, capturing his sitters with an elegance and refinement which would have very much suited their preference. This is combined with an easy realism which effectively captures the falling of shadows upon the face, the glinting of eyes. Holm also draws attention to the clothing of his sitters, picking up lustrous silks in highlights of gleaming silver, or the painstaking tailoring of fine overcoats and waistcoats. Lace is elaborated in luxurious lines.
Holm’s genre scenes retain this refined air, often depicting conventionally attractive women going about their days with a swan-like elegance. A flower shop scene once again combines a canny realism with this attractive romanticism. These works would have been very fitting for the Danish market at the time, whose focus was on celebrating the everyday life of its citizens in a romanticised manner.
In his later years, Holm worked as a drawing teacher. Notable pupils include the portrait painter August Jerndorff (1846-1906). He was also a prominent figure amongst the Danish Freemasons.
Today, an example of his work resides in the Frederiksborg Museum.
Born in Randers, Denmark.
Exhibited frequently at the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition.
Began studying at the Model School at the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
Awarded a Silver Medal at the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
Travelled to Munich, Vienna, and Paris.
Worked as an art teacher at the United Church.
Died in Frederiksberg, Denmark. Buried in Solbjerg Park Cemetery.