Monies, David (1812-1894)

Monies, David (1812-1894)
Monies, David (1812-1894)

David Monies was much sought after as a portrait painter in his homeland of Denmark. He also produced an array of whimsically spirited, celebratory genre scenes of rural country life.

Monies unfortunately spent much of his childhood in poverty after his father’s cigar factory was impacted by the effects of war. It was owing to his innate artistic talent that he gained admission to the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts at the age of 12. The Academy noted his talent as being of ‘unusual facilities.’ Indeed, alongside his studies, Monies was also encouraged by the artist J.L. Lund (1777-1867) in pursuing an art career and exhibiting his work. Monies began to grow a reputation and even a client base. He earnt enough money off his portraits to finance a trip to Munich, as well as his skills earning him a scholarship from the Academy to fund further travels.

Portraiture as an artistic career was a profitable venture to undertake in Denmark during the 19th century. A growing bourgeois middle-class desired to have their person depicted as a sign of their stature and wealth. Monies executed his portraits with a cunning likeness, figures elegantly posed and delicately colourised. With a gloss to her lips and a healthy sheen to her hair, a female sitter is captured in a flattering light which defines her opal, deep-set eyes. Her fashionable gown is captured in a silky sleek shock of dusky pink, the titling of her head slightly to the side adding further refinement to her depiction.

There was also, at this time, a demand for genre scenes. Clients desired scenes which captured rural life in a nostalgic, idealised manner. Monies’ sense of whimsy in his genre scenes has often been noted by documenters. Fields of bounteous hay are honeyed gold and trees cluster with a bursting verdancy over a group picnicking in a meadow. The cloud-dappled sky is of a soft blue tone, and the shadows which skirt the group in the foreground seek only to frame the joyous mood of their meeting. A twilight scene brimming with waxy moonlight creates peels of cosiness with soft light emanating from small cottages. An interior scene of two children playing with bubbles neatly lends a sense of cosiness with an arching roof covering a cushy bed. The two children are primed and pressed neatly, surrounded by this snug interior.

Monies saw great success as an artist, so much so lithographs had to be made of his work to disseminate copies more widely. He also became a member, and eventually a professor, of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Great honour from Monies’ appointment to the Order of the Dannebrog, an illustrious, chivalrous order which recognised his impact on Danish art.

From an impoverished childhood, Monies had made his mark on Danish art, and his works remain stunning examples of portraiture and genre scenes of the 19th century.


Born in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Studied at the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts.


First exhibited at the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition. Awarded a small silver medal from the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts.


Awarded a large silver medal from the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts.


Travelled to Munich, Germany, and Paris, France.


Awarded the Foundation ad Usus Publicos scholarship.


Married Bolette Jacobson.


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


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


Awarded the Ankerske Travel Grant.


Appointed to the Order of the Dannebrog.


Appointed a Dannesbrogsman.


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

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