Julius Paulsen was a highly respected Danish artist who blended a wide range of influences to create skilfully poised, almost timeless, masterpieces.
He was born in Odense, the son of a shopkeeper, and attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen - where he later became a professor. From early on, his significant skill was noted by his contemporaries, particularly with regards to his portraiture. He had an inordinate ability to capture a subject’s spirit with accuracy and expression.
His success was, in part, due to his ability to splice together approaches that were separated by centuries. He was inspired by the old masters, particularly Rembrandt, yet also by the emerging avant-garde.
During his time at the Academy, Paulsen studied a range of classically-inspired techniques - from the Renaissance and Baroque through to exquisite contemporary French salon painting. He must’ve found this particularly interesting as he was also associating with the Skagen Painters, such as P.S. Kroyer (1851-1909), who were closely aligned with the French impressionists.
Imagine having the best of both worlds - to study the precision, symbolism, and drama of the old masters yet also paint alongside those seeking to challenge the status quo. Paulsen was blessed and he took it all in his stride. He brought the old and new together to create something altogether his own.
By the early 20th-century, his brushwork had evolved to become expressive, textured and gestural. His figures were particularly impressive and, at times, stylistically reminiscent of Rembrandt’s ‘A Woman Bathing In A Stream’. His admiration for the Dutch luminary was clear yet he introduced his own beautiful (modern) treatment of light.
In our opinion, Julius Paulsen remains one of the most underrated Danish painters of his generation. His respectful approach to the past brings sophistication to his desire to express a subject’s spirit.
Many works by Paulsen are held in Danish museums and his portrait of P.S. Kroyer currently hangs in Frederiksborg Palace.
Born in Odense.
Studied in Odense under painter N.M. Aaagaard.
Exhibited for the first time in Charlottenborg.
Studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Works exhibited there annually won great acclaim.
Received the Hielmstierne-Rosencrone Prize.
Travelled to Holland, Belgium, and France with fellow painter Viggo Johansen.
Travelled to Germany.
Received the Neu Hasen Prize.
Academy funded trip to Italy to develop his artistic oeuvre.
Became a regular exhibitor at The Free Exhibition (Den Frie Udstilling).
Received the Thorvaldsen Exhibition Medal, entitling him to a seat in the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’ Plenary Assembly.
Academy funded trip to London and Paris to develop his artistic oeuvre.
Married Esther Lange in Copenhagen.
Became a member of the Academic Council of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.
Appointed to the Gallery Commission.
Became a professor teaching at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
Travelled to Paris.
Travelled to Spain with fellow painter J.F. Willumsen.
Travelled to Paris.
Took part in the Art Competitions of the 1932 Olympic Games.
Died in Copenhagen. Buried in Holmen’s Cemetery, Østerbro, Copenhagen.