Ludvig Luplau Janssen was a versatile Danish painter of landscapes, scenes and portraits. His oeuvre is rich with animation, joviality and delicate family moments. A celebration of love, endeavour and the beauty of the natural world.
Born in Sørbymagle, Zealand, young Janssen was raised in the town rectory by his parents Carl Emil Janssen, the parish priest, and Louise Sofie Frederikke. Sørbymagle was a quiet rural backwater with its 12th-century church at the heart of its community. Aside from the verdant scenery, its skies would’ve been particularly magical as they inspired the young artist to develop a side interest in astronomy. Janssen remains one of its most-revered former residents, along with his sister, Louise Amalie (1863-1938), who was an operatic soprano.
Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
At 18, Janssen began his training at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. The City beckoned and he left the picturesque environs of his hometown behind. His studies were a formal affair based predominantly on life drawing, old master studies and long-established formulas. Vital in terms of his development, yet lacking the excitement of an ever-evolving art scene.
Hence, alongside his traditional tuition, he attended evening classes at PS Kroyer’s Painting School, which was considerably more progressive. Kroyer, having recently lived in Paris, studied under Léon Bonnat and mingled with the Impressionists. His approach was freer, more liberal, and focused on the fleeting effects of lights.
Just three years later, Janssen debuted at the prestigious Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition with ‘On the Way to Milking on an Early Summer Morning. Motif from Refsnæs.’ These early exhibition works displayed the influence of Kroyer, yet also carried a stiffer quality caused, perhaps, by overworking. However, Academy officials were impressed and awarded three prizes in 1894, 1896 and 1898.
Luplau Janssen, Girl Herding Some Sheep (1897)
Luplau Janssen with his first wife Marie (c.1900)
Den Frie Udstilling
As his career progressed, he made improvements to his colouring, often paring back a palette to create a greater sense of harmony. He also decided to move towards a freer style of brushwork and break away from Academy rigour. In 1902, he exhibited for the final time at the formal Charlottenborg Spring and began to send works to Den Frie Udstilling (The Free Exhibition).
Known predominantly for his scenes with figures, Janssen was adept at capturing moments of domestic interest - such as family meals, siblings playing and mothers tending to children. Although, he could also produce a characterful portrait when commissioned - as we see here from 1903.
Luplau Janssen, Portrait of Peter Faber (1903)
In 1909, now in his 40s, Jansson left for Paris where he undertook further studies at the Academy Ranon. He’d separated from his first wife Marie and began a relationship with the artist Ingeborg Madsen. This French adventure seems to have provided the catalyst for some of his most accomplished works. And that year, he exhibited at The Secession, Berlin, alongside Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cezanne, and Gustav Klimt among others. By 1910, he’d married his new love.
For the next seventeen years, he produced a collection of radiant works, often characterised by movement amid strong light. Here, in 1915, we see several workers sowing a ploughed field under the haze of a low sun.
Luplau Janssen, The Sowers (1915)
In 1917, he captured the joviality of a child’s birthday party. The warm pinks and playful yellows adding to a sense of youthful exuberance.
Luplau Janssen, A Child's Birthday (1917)
Around this time, further travels beckoned and Jansson took himself to Rome, Berlin, Northern Italy, and Munich.
When back in Denmark, he was perhaps inspired by sunlit Italian harbours. Here, the clever use of strong colours creates harmony and vigour. One can almost hear the chatter.
Luplau Janssen, Harbour Scene from Bornholm with Fishermen and Women Selling Fish (1924)
In 1925, nearing the end of his life, Jansson spent time amid the epic vistas of Greenland, where he produced several landscapes. But a year later, returned to domestic bliss.
Luplau Janssen, A Group of People on the Beach (1926)
Ludvig Luplau Janssen was an accomplished colourist who painted candid moments with buoyancy and movement. Training under some of the finest, he combined various philosophies to create a style uniquely his own. Today, he’s remembered for his breadth of work but also as a former teacher at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen.
Born in Sørbymagle Præstegård, Denmark to parish priest Carl Emil Janssen and Louise Sofie Frederikke b. Luplau.
Trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen while undertaking further evening studies at PS Kroyer’s Painting School.
Debuted at the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition with ‘On the Way to Milking on an Early Summer Morning. Motif from Refsnæs.’ and a portrait. He continued to exhibit annually until 1902.
Married Marie Borup.
Debuted at The Free Exhibition where he continued to exhibit until 1927, missing only one year.
Studied at the Academy Ranon, Paris where he met his second wife, Ingeborg Madsen.
Exhibited at The Secession, Berlin.
Married the artist Ingeborg Madsen.
Undertook study trips to Rome, Berlin, Northern Italy, and Munich.
Travelled to Greenland.