Magaard, Valdemar (1864-1937)

Magaard, Valdemar (1864-1937)

Danish artist Valdemar Magaard is well known for his sentimental genre paintings. These celebrate the everyday joys and simplicities of Danish folk and country life. They are also significant studies and statements about Danish identity at a time when changes were occurring within the country.

Magaard began his artistic education at the preparatory technical school before moving onto the eminent Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts. He would also attend further lessons at Peder Severin Krøyer’s schools in the Artists' Free Study Schools, which was established to provide a greater selection of artistic education than the Academy would provide. Magaard would study further with Johan Nordhagen (1856-1956) in Oslo. Clearly, he was an artist keen to improve his own skills.

In between his studies, Magaard made trips to Netherlands and Germany, however, it was to his homeland that his artistic sensibilities were drawn. Magaard began to make a name for himself through his richly sentimental and heartfelt interior scenes. Such scenes were very popular in Denmark, particularly of the heady idylls of rural life that Magaard depicted. They harked back to Denmark’s folk traditions whilst at the same time banishing any hint of the contemporary industrialisation of the country. These scenes were escapes, reminiscing a simpler time, all whilst celebrating Danish tradition.

Magaard’s scenes are painted with a characterful realism, combined with a savvy ability to disseminate the ephemeral nature of light throughout each scene. It glints into darkened interiors through windows and open doorways. It highlights the folds of dresses and the wrinkles of skin. It lends a gentle warmth to plastered walls, to wooden furniture and floorboards. It highlights the everyday tasks and pleasures of rural life and does so with an affectionate tinge.

Magaard’s interior scenes earned him a number of scholarships, including the prestigious Raben-Levetzau scholarship. He was also a very frequent exhibitor across Denmark, including at the Charlottenborg exhibitions in Copenhagen.

In his later career, the scenes which had quietly praised the national identity of folk life took on new life. In 1920 lands in the Southern Jutland area of Denmark were handed back to Denmark from Germany. The lands had formerly been taken in the Second Schleswig War in 1864. Their return was a success for Denmark, a further declaration about its national identity and position within Europe.

Magaard began to depict interior scenes from this area, as well as cityscapes and scenes of the small villages and towns of Southern Jutland. These he approached with the same care and detail applied to earlier works. His cityscapes in particular possess a detail and specificity which makes them useful historical records of these lands at this time of transition.

Through gentle and pleasing scenes of Danish folk life, Valdemar Magaard was furthering ideas of Danish national identity, all whilst lending to his work a notable skill of draughtsmanship and mood. His works survive as examples of Danish national identity, both established and in flux.


Born in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Made his exhibition debut at the Charlottenborg Fall Exhibition.


Studied at the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts.


Exhibited frequently at the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition.


Studied at Peder Severin Krøyer’s school at the Artists' Free Study Schools.


Awarded the Raben-Levetzau scholarship.


Married Annie Georgine Cathrine Jensen. Awarded Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts scholarship.


Awarded the Hielmstierne-Rosencrone scholarship.


Exhibited at the Charlottenborg Fall Exhibition.


Exhibited at the Charlottenborg Fall Exhibition.


Died in Gentofte, Denmark. Buried in Gentofte Cemetery.

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