Danish artist Carl Hornung-Jensen was predominantly a landscape artist who derived much inspiration from a naturalist treatment of the scenery which would become the fascinating studies of his works.
Hornung-Jensen showed artistic promise from a young age. After a time working as a painting apprentice, he studied at the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Studying at the Royal Academy had long been a way for Danish artists to cement themselves as professionals. However, the painting styles they promoted were coming to be considered old-fashioned and conservative. Young artists desired more, they wanted to experiment with their natural talents.
For Hornung-Jensen this entailed travelling to Paris to study. Here is where he found the passion that would inform and shape all his artworks from that time forward: naturalism.
Naturalism had grown increasingly popular throughout Europe during the 19th century. A mainstay by the 20th century, it had close roots with the work of the impressionists and others who derived inspiration from studies of nature. France in particular was a hub for this style of art, so it is no surprise that Hornung-Jensen found such fascination and inspiration during his studies.
He was educated at the progressive Académie Colarossi, which was established in protest against the perceived conservatism of the School of Fine Arts. Here Hornung-Jensen was tutored by some of the finest practitioners of the naturalist style, Christian Krohg (1852-1925) and Frits Thaulow (1847-1906). Even after his time at the Académie Colarossi, when Hornung-Jensen did study at the School of Fine Arts, he gravitated towards one of the leading professors who promoted naturalism there, Léon Bonnat (1833-1922). From every corner, Hornung-Jensen was receiving a first-class education which allowed him to nourish his artistic appetite.
Despite such a French education, it was the countryside of his homeland that appealed to his artistic senses. Hornung-Jensen often depicts the wild temperament of the Danish coastline, the many moods of the sea and its treatment of the shoreline. A tempest brews in surly clouds whipped up with quick brushstrokes above a roiling sea of kaleidoscopic blues. In calmer scenes, the beach lays claim to a placid view, quelling the tide into a simmering roll which gently caresses its creamy sands.
Hornung-Jensen also became connected to a group of artists who were keen to depict the Dyrehaven, or deer park. Established in the early 20th century, this group enjoyed studying the transcendental beauty of Denmark’s celebrated country parks. Hornung-Jensen became one of the most established figures of this group. Critics praised his French training for his sophisticated depictions of the majestical trees which tower over swaying grass and grazing deer. Nature was his to observe and to gain inspiration from, but it was also his to enhance in his paintings with his skill and talent.
Hornung-Jensen continued to exhibit throughout his life, often with the Dyrehaven group and also at the popular Charlottenborg exhibit in Copenhagen. He passed on his artistic passion to his son, Preben Hornung (1919-1989), who became a respected artist in his own right, although his passion was for abstract art. It is fascinating to perhaps wonder how the father encouraged the son to pursue his passion in art, to not go with the conservative and what was expected, and instead find something that came naturally.
Born in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Worked as a painting apprentice.
Awarded a silver medal in the apprentice’s test.
Studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.
Studied at the Académie Colarossi.
Studied at the School of Fine Arts, Paris.
Exhibited at the Charlottenborg Exhibition.
Exhibited with the Dyrehaven Artists.
Married Ellen Hermansen.
Son Preben Hornung born.
Exhibited at the Artists’ Association, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Awarded the Otto Bache Scholarship.
Granted the National Art scholarship.
Died in Copenhagen. Buried in Frederiksberg Older Cemetery.