Panitzsch, Robert (1879-1949)

Panitzsch, Robert (1879-1949)

Author: Andy Shield

Robert Gustav Otto Panitzsch was born in the USA but later immigrated to Denmark and became a national. He’s particularly well known for his interior scenes and tended to paint sunlit rooms with female occupants.

His father worked as a stationmaster and sometimes Robert would accompany him and draw while sitting in the waiting room. You can imagine how exciting it would’ve been to quickly sketch various travellers before they scuttled off on their journeys. On one occasion, his skilful drawings caught the eye of a distinguished gentleman from Emperor Wilhelm's court. It’s said that he was so impressed with Robert’s potential that he guaranteed his acceptance into the Imperial Academy of Arts in Berlin.

Following his time at the Academy, he worked as a church painter and met his future wife, Fanny Christensen, who was working for the Red Cross. This marriage ultimately led to him becoming a Danish citizen later in life.

It’s interesting that he became a Danish citizen as his painting style suits the often introspective nature of Danish genre scenes.

The Danes have a strong heritage of capturing an evocative atmosphere and Panitzsch would’ve enjoyed the inspiration.

Perhaps he was a quiet, reclusive character that revelled in the subtleties of everyday life over the beauty of the great outdoors.

Author: Polly Pyke

Robert Panitzsch captured nature and humanity alike in his sun-softened depictions of Denmark.

Panitzsch’s painting prospects began in his homeland of Germany. Here, his father was a train station manager. The story goes that the young Panitzsch was painting one day at the station when an eminent customer took an interest. This man, it turned out, was a cavalry master to Kaiser Wilhelm. He took Panitzsch’s work and showed it to the emperor, who promised the young boy a place at the Imperial Academy of Arts in Berlin once he turned 18. This promise must have stuck, for Panitzsch did indeed attend the Academy as a young man.

It was in the aftermath of the First World War that Panitzsch moved to Denmark. He had been working for a while painting churches in Berlin, and had married a Danish woman, Fanny Vilhelmine Christensen. Denmark might have offered the promise of a new life for Panitzsch, and he began working as an independent artist first in Kongens Lyngby, and eventually in Christianshavn, Copenhagen.

It was in Christianshavn he began to render bright, pleasant scenes of the city and harbour life. crystalline sunlight casts all it touches in a pale haze of pleasantness. Boats bob upon gently rendered waters of a candied blue. People stroll along streets of baked stone. This sun even sinks into his interiors, soaking wood furnishings which might otherwise be dim and dark with a lightness invoking cosiness. These are complimented with carefully detailed soft furnishings. A curtain flutters in the breeze, great swathes of white cotton illuminated by the sun.

Panitzsch had a particular penchant for flowers, and these serve to complement the interiors and add touches of zesty brightness, stems stretched and petals blossoming in the sun.

These images proved popular, and alongside executing illustrations for postcards and Christmas cards, Panitzsch made a successful career for himself. His works remain as fascinating celebrations of everyday life in Denmark, giving us a sun-kissed glimpse into an artist’s rendering of a country through their own, unique eye.


Born in Mecklenburg, Schuyler, New York, USA to Gustav Karl Adolf Panitzsch and Amanda Emilie Panitzsch (nee Wendt).


Admitted to the Imperial Academy of Arts in Berlin.


Married to Fanny Vilhelmine Christensen (b. 1888).


Moved to Kongens Lyngby, Denmark.


Gained Danish citizenship.


Died in Copenhagen.

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